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Bell, Daniel, ed. 

The radical right, The new 
American right expanded and up- 
dated. Garden City, N.Y* 
Doubleday, 1963- 


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The Radical Right 

1 1 1964 


DANIEL BELL is Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and chair- 
man of the department in Columbia College. He was formerly 
managing editor of The New Leader, labor editor of Fortune Maga- 
zine, and director of the international-seminar program of the 
Congress for Cultural Freedom (Paris). He has taught at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and 
was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral 
Sciences. He is the author, among other works, of The Background 
and Development of Marxian Socialism in the United States and 
The End of Ideology. 

RICHARD HOFSTADTER is De Witt Clinton Professor of American History 
at Columbia University. He has been the Pitt Professor in American 
History at Cambridge University and the Harmsworth Professor at 
Oxford. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of 
Reform, and, among other books, Social Darwinianism in American 
Thought, The American Political Tradition, and (with Walter Metz- 
ger) Academic Freedom in the United States. 

DAVID RIESMAN is Henry Ford II Professor of Social Science at Harvard 
University. He was Professor of Social Science at the University of 
Chicago, and a visiting professor at Yale and Johns Hopkins. He is 
the author of half a dozen books, including The Lonely Crowd, 
Individualism Reconsidered, Thorstein Veblen, and Variety and Con- 
straint in American Education. 

NATHAN GLAZER, a sociologist, has taught at the University of California 
at Berkeley, Smith College, and Columbia University. He is a co- 
author of The Lonely Crowd and has written American Judaism 
and The Social Basis of American Communism, 

PETER VIERECK, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is Professor 
of Modern History at Mount Holyoke College. Among his writings 
in the history of ideas are Metapolitics: From the Romantics to 
Hitler, Conservatism Revisited, The Shame and Glory of the Intel- 
lectuals, and The Unadjusted Man. 

TALCOTT PARSONS is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. 
Among his major works are The Structure of Social Action, The 
Social System, and Toward a General Theory of Action (with 
Edward Shils). 

iv The Contributors 

ALAN F. WESTIN is Associate Professor of Public Law and Government 
at Columbia University. He is a member of the bar in the District 
of Columbia and a member of the national board of directors of 
the American Civil Liberties Union. He is the author of The Anat- 
omy of a Constitutional Law Case, The Supreme Court: Views from 
the Inside, and The Uses of Power. 

HERBERT H. HYMAN is Professor of Sociology and Associate Director 
of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. 
He is past President of the American Association for Public Opinion 
Research and recipient of its Julian Woodward Memorial Award 
for Distinguished Achievement. He has been visiting professor at 
the University of Oslo and the University of Ankara, Among his 
books are Survey Design and Analysis, Interviewing in Social Re- 
search, and Political Socialization. 

SEYMOUR MARTIN LIPSET is Professor of Sociology and Director of the 
Institute of International Studies at the University of California at 
Berkeley. He has taught at Columbia University, was visiting Ford 
Professor at Yale, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced 
Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. He is the author of Political 
Man, Agrarian Socialism, Union Democracy (with James Coleman 
and Martin Trow), Social Mobility in Industrial Society (with Rein- 
hard Bendix), and other books. 

The Radical Right 


Edited by DANIEL BELL 

1963 Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 63-8748 

Copyright 1963 by Daniel Bell 

Copyright 1955 by Criterion Books, Inc. 

All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America 

First Edition 


Executive Editor of The New Leader 

In Memoriam 
this book is personally dedicated 


The Contributors iii 

Preface xi 

jf. The Dispossessed (1962) 1 


2. Interpretations of American Politics (1955) 39 


3. The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt (1955) 63 


4. Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited: A Postscript (1962) 81 


5. The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes (1955) 87 


6. The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes: 

Some Further Reflections (1962) 115 


7. The Revolt Against the Elite (1955) 135 


8. The Philosophical 'Wew Conservatism" (1962) 155- 


9. Social Strains in America (1955) 175 


x Contents 

10. Social Strains in America: A Postscript (1962) 193 


^1L The John Birch Society (1962) 201 


12. England and America: Climates of Tolerance 

and Intolerance (1962) 227 


A3. The Sources of the "Radical Right" (1955) 259 


^4, Three Decades of the Radical Right: Coughlinites, 

McCarthy ites, and Birchers (1962) 313 


Acknowledgments 378 

Index 379 


The idea for the original edition of this volume, which ap- 
peared under the title The New American Right, arose in 1954 in 
a faculty seminar on political behavior, at Columbia University. The 
subject was McCarthyism, and we sought to bring to bear on this 
question whatever sophistication the social sciences had achieved. 
One thing soon became clear: the standard explanations of Ameri- 
can political behavior in terms of economic-interest-group conflict 
or the role of the electoral structure were inadequate to the task. 
(See Chapter 2.) The most fruitful approaches seemed to be those 
worked out by Richard Hofstadter and Seymour Martin Lipset. 

Hofstadter, from a historian's vantage point, argued that a pre- 
occupation with status has been a persistent element in American 
politics and that McCarthyism as a social phenomenon could best 
be explained as a form of "status anxiety" in groups that have 
been "tormented by a nagging doubt as to whether they are really 
and truly and fully American." He called the individuals in such 
positions "pseudo-conservatives" because, while claiming to uphold 
tradition, they were in reality projecting their own fears and frustra- 
tions onto society. 

Lipset, a sociologist, distinguished between "class politics," which 
seemed applicable during periods of depression and "status politics," 
which seemed to predominate during periods of prosperity, when 
groups were concerned to defend their newly won positions. McCar- 
thyism, he argued, was a species of status politics, and McCarthy's 
followers were the "radical right" a term coined by Lipset and 
used for tie first time in the original edition of this book because 
they represented a form of extremism, rather than a genuine effort 
to bespeak the conservative point of view. 

A number of essays appearing about this time by David Ries- 
man and Nathan Glazer, Peter Viereck, and Talcott Parsons in- 
dicated that other writers had independently been engaged in the 
same kind of analysis, although each with a different emphasis. The 

xii Preface 

congruence was striking enough to suggest a book that would bring 
together these essays as illustrations of this new conceptual analysis. 
Hence, The New American Right, 

When the book appeared in 1955, McCarthy was already sliding 
toward his downfall. But as the introductory essay noted at that 
time, "McCarthyisin, or McCarthywasm, as one wit put it, may be 
a passing phenomenon. This book is concerned not with these tran- 
siencies, but with the deeper-running social currents of a turbulent 
mid-century America." The re-emergence of the "radical right" in 
1961-62 has justified these fears while confirming our analysis. This 
is not to say that Birchism, and other aspects of the present radical 
right, are exactly the same as McCarthyism. As a number of the 
following essays make clear, there are some distinct dissimilarities 
as well as some common features. McCarthy was a wrecker -what 
the Germans call an Umsturzmensch, a man who wants to tear up 
society but has no plan of his own. The radical right of the nine- 
teen-sixties is a movement that fears not only Communism but 
"modernity," and that, in its equation of liberalism with Communism, 
represents a different challenge to the American democratic consen- 

In bringing out this new, enlarged edition of The New American 
Right, the authors felt that, rather than rewrite the original essays, 
they would prefer to let these stand as their judgments at the time, 
and to add supplementary essays. In American social science, there 
is a valuable tendency, initiated by Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert K. 
Merton in their follow-up volume on "The American Soldier," to 
create "continuities" in research by allowing participants in the orig- 
inal efforts, and others, to comment on that research and to extend 
the initial analysis. In that sense, this volume represents a "con- 
tinuity" in which the authors can assess their own work and, at the 
same time, contribute analyses of the radical right, circa 1962. Thus, 
the original essays carry the notation "1955" after the tide, while 
the new essays bear the legend "1962." 

From the original volume, one essay, "The Polls on Communism 
and Conformity," by S. M. Lipset and Nathan Glazer, has been 
eliminated, primarily because it was methodological, while its sub- 
stantive material, a report on the volume Communism, Conformity 
and Civil Liberties, by Samuel Stouffer, is summarized ia the 
new essay by Herbert H. Hyman. 

Preface xiii 

In addition to the supplementary chapters by the original authors, 
we have added two new essays to this volume. One, by Alan Westin, 
is an intensive examination of the ideology and operations of the 
John Birch Society, which Westin locates in the context of extremist 
politics, both left and right, in the United States. The second, by 
Herbert H. Hyman, is a comparison of the climates of political 
intolerance in England and America. Any general explanation of a 
social movement has to be rooted in comparative analysis, and Hy- 
man's pioneering work in that direction provides a useful correc- 
tive to some of the parochial aspects of the original analyses. 

The volume opens with a new chapter by the editor, which seeks 
to explain the emergence of the radical right of 1961-62 both in its 
immediate political context and as a reflection of more pervasive 
social changes in American life; this is foEowed by the editor's 
original essay of 1955, which deals with the standard interpretations 
of political behavior in America. In all other instances, the original 
essay precedes each author's supplementary chapter. 

The stimulus to several of these essays came initially from the 
Fund for the Republic, and we again acknowledge, gratefully, its 
courageous and early help. Mr. Upset's long, supplementary con- 
tribution a monograph in its own right was aided by a grant 
from the Anti-Defamation League which is sponsoring, at the Uni- 
versity of California at Berkeley, an extended survey of the relation- 
ship of political extremism to ethnic prejudice in the United States. 

Columbia University 
June, 1962, 


The Dispossessed 1962* 


The American has never yet had to face the trials of Job. . . . Hith- 
erto America has been the land of universal good will, confidence 
in life, inexperience of poisons. Until yesterday, it believed itself 
immune from the hereditary plagues of mankind. It could not 
credit the danger of being suffocated or infected by any sinister 
principle, . . 


Character and Opinion 

in the United States 

IN THE WINTER of 1961-62, the "radical right" emerged 
into quick prominence on the American political scene. The im- 
mediate reasons for its appearance are not hard to understand. The 
simple fact was that the Republican Party, now out of power, In- 
evitably began to polarize (much as the Democrats, if they were 
out of power, might have split over the civil rights and integration 
issue), and the right wing carne to the fore. The right-wing Re- 
publicans have an ideology perhaps the only group in American 
life that possesses one today but during the Eisenhower administra- 
tion they had been trapped because "their" party was in power, 
and the American political system, with its commitment to deals 
and penalties, does not easily invite ideological or even principled 
political splits. An administration in office, possessing patronage 
and prestige, can "paper over" the inherent divisions within a 
party. But out of office, such conflicts are bound to arise, and so 
they did within the G.O.P. 

Clearly there is more to all this than merely a contest for power 
within a party. Something new has been happening in American 
life. It is not the rancor of the radical right, for rancor has been a 

* Copyright 1962 by Daniel Bell. 

2 The Radical Right 

recurrent aspect of the American political temper. Nor is it just the 
casting of suspicions or the conspiracy theory of politics, elements 
of which have streaked American life in the past. What is new, and 
this is why the problem assumes importance far beyond the ques- 
tion of the fight for control of a party, is the ideology of this move- 
m ent its readiness to jettison constitutional processes and to sus- 
pend liberties, to condone Communist methods in the fighting of 

Few countries in the world have been able to maintain a social 
system that allows political power to pass peacefully from one 
social group to another without the threat of hostilities or even civil 
war. In the mid-twentieth century, we see such historical centers of 
civilization as France, let alone states just beginning to work out 
viable democratic frameworks, torn apart by ideological groups that 
will not accept a consensual system of politics. The politics of civility, 
to use Edward Shils* phrase, has been the achievement of only a 
small group of countries those largely within an Anglo-Saxon or 
Scandinavian political tradition. Today, the ideology of the right 
wing in America threatens the politics of American civility. Its com- 
mitment and its methods threaten to disrupt the "fragile consensus" 
that underlies the American political system. 

I believe that the radical right is only a small minority, but it 
gains force from the confusions within the world of conservatism 
regarding the changing character of American life. What the right 
as a whole fears is tbe erosion of its own social position, the col- 
lapse of its power, the increasing incomprehensibility of a world 
now overwhelmingly technical and complex that has changed so 
drastically within a lifetime. 

The right, thus, fights a rear-guard action. But its very anxieties 
illustrate the deep fissures that have opened in American society as 
a whole, as a result of the complex structural changes that have 
been taking place in the past thirty years or so. And more, they 
show that the historic American response to social crisis, the char- 
acteristic American style, is no longer adequate to the tasks. 


The Emergence of the Radical Right 

Social groups that are dispossessed invariably seek targets on whom 
they can vent their resentments, targets whose power can serve to 

The Dispossessed 1962 3 

explain their dispossession. In this respect, the radical right of the 
early 1960s is in no way different from the Populists of the 1890s, 
who for years traded successfully on such simple formulas as "Wall 
Street," "International bankers," and "the Trusts," in order to 
have not only targets but "explanations" for politics. What lends 
especial rancor to the radical right of the 1960s is its sense of be- 
trayal not by its "enemies" but by its "friends." 

After twenty years of Democratic power, the right-wing Republi- 
cans hoped that the election of Dwight Eisenhower would produce 
its own Utopia: the dismantling of the welfare state, the taming of 
labor unions, and the "magical" rollback of Communism in Europe. 
None of this happened. Eisenhower's Labor Secretary courted the 
unions, social-security benefits increased, and, during the recession, 
unemployment benefits were extended, while the government, in 
good Keynesian style, ran a twelve-billion-dollar budgetary deficit. 
In foreign policy, Secretary of State Dulles first trumpeted a "libera- 
tion policy," and then retreated, talked brinkmanship but moved 
cautiously, announced a policy of "massive retaliation," and, to- 
ward the end of his tenure, abandoned even that, so that the 
subsequent Eisenhower moves toward summitry were no different 
from, or from a "hard" right line were "softer" than, the Truman- 
Acheson containment policy. Thus eight years of moderation proved 
more frustrating than twenty years of opposition. 

Once the Democrats were back in office, the charge of softness 
in dealing with Communism could again become a political, as well 
as an ideological, issue. And the radical right was quick to act. The 
abject failure in Cuba the name of the landing place for the abor- 
tive invasion, the Bay of Pigs, itself became a cruel historical joke 
seemed to reinforce the picture of the United States that emerged 
out of the stalemate in Korea a decade ago of a lurching, lumber- 
ing power, lacking will, unsure of its strength, indecisive in its course, 
defensive in its posture. The theme of the radical right was voiced 
by Rear Admiral Chester Ward (ret.), the Washington director of 
the American Security Council, who declared, "Americans are tired 
of defeats. They are tired of surrenders covered up as 'negotiated 
settlements.' They are, indeed, tired of so much talk and little action 
by our leaders. For the first time in sixteen years of the cold war, a 
demand for victory is beginning to roll into Washington." 

Thus the stage was set. 

The factors that precipitated the radical right into quick notoriety 

4 The Radical Right 

in early 1961 were the rancor of their attacks and the flash spread 
of the movement in so many different places. McCarthyism in the 
mid-1950s was never an organized movement; it was primarily an 
atmosphere of fear, generated by a one-man swashbuckler cutting a 
wide swath through the headlines. In some localities in Hollywood, 
on Broadway, in some universities individual vigilante groups did 
begin a drumbeat drive against Communists or former fellow-trav- 
elers, but by and large the main agitation was conducted in govern- 
ment by Congressional or state legislators, using agencies of legisla- 
tive investigation to assert their power. In contrast, the radical right 
of the 1960s has been characterized by a multitude of organiza- 
tions that seemingly have been able to evoke an intense emotional 
response from a devoted following. 

Three elements conjoined to attract public attention to the radical 
right. One was the disclosure of the existence of the John Birch 
Society, a secretive, conspiratorial group obedient to a single leader, 
Robert Welch, who argued that one could combat the methods of 
Communism only with Communist methods. Thus, membership lists 
were never disclosed, fronts were organized to conduct campaigns 
(such as the one to impeach Chief Justice Warren, which turned, 
with heavy-handed jocularity, into calls to "hang" him) , and a sym- 
bol of patriotism was put forth in the name of an Army captain who 
had been shot in China by the Communists. 

The second was the fashionable spread of week-long seminars of 
anti-Communist "schools," conducted by evangelist preachers who 
adapted old revivalist techniques to a modern idiom, which swept 
sections of the country, particularly the Southwest and California, 
These schools promised to initiate the student into the "mysteries" 
of Communism by unfolding its secret aims, or unmasking the philos- 
ophy of "dialectical materialism." And, third, there was the dis- 
closure of the existence of extreme fanatic groups, such as the 
Minutemen, who organized "guerrilla-warfare seminars," complete 
with rifles and mortars, in preparation for the day when patriots 
would have to take to the hills to organize resistance against a Com- 
munist-run America. Such fringe movements, ludicrous as they were, 
illustrated the hysteria that had seized some sections of the radical* 

To a surprising extent, much of the radical-right agitation and 
the spread of the seminar device was unleashed by the Eisenhower 

The Dispossessed 1962 5 

administration itself. In 1958, the National Security Council issued 
a directive, as yet still unpublished, which stated that it would be the 
policy of the United States government., as Senator Fulbright cited 
it, "to make use of military personnel and facilities to arouse the 
public to the menace of Communism." 1 Following this directive, 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National War College entered into 
consultation with the Foreign Policy Research Institute of the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, and the Institute of American Strategy (a 
creation, of the Richardson Foundation), to plan curriculum and 
seminars for reserve officers and local businessmen. A basic text was 
adopted, American Strategy for the Nuclear Age, edited by Walter 
F. Hahn and John C. Neff ? of the University of Pennsylvania group. 
An equally influential text was the book Protracted Conflict, by 
Robert Strausz-Hupe and Colonel William Kintner, which argues 
that no negotiations with the Russians leading to a stable settlement 
are really possible. The Strausz-Hupe group is neither part of, nor 
should it be identified with, the lunatic fringes of the right. Its 
arguments are serious and subject to the debate and rival assess- 
ments of other scholars. But the actions initiated by the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff did lead to a large number of Projects Alert and indoc- 
trination seminars, carried out by official Navy and Army spokes- 
men, that went far beyond the original scope of the National Security 
Council directive, and that brought into these sessions the pitchmen 
of the radical right. 

In August, 1960 (as detailed in the Fulbright memorandum), the 
United States Naval Air Station, at Glenview, Illinois, sent out in- 
vitations to community leaders and businessmen, inviting them to a 
seminar on "Education for American Security." The announced pur- 
pose of the seminar was to stimulate an active force against "moral 
decay, political apathy and spiritual bankruptcy," and to teach the 
participants how to create similar schools in other Midwestern com- 
munities. The conference was addressed by a number of high-rank- 
ing naval officers. But it also included Dr. Fred C. Schwarz, the 
organizer of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade; E. Merrill 
Root, author of Brainwashing in the High Schools and Collectivism 
on the Campus, and an endorser of the John Birch Society; and 
Richard Arens, former research director of the House Un-American 
Activities Committee, and a member of Schwarz's Christian Crusade. 
The speeches during the sessions, according to the Christian Century, 
the liberal Protestant weekly published in Chicago, not only attacked 

6 The Radical Right 

Communism but condemned as well "liberals, modernists, John 
Dewey, Harvard students, the New York Times, the American 
Friends Service Committee, pacifists, naive ministers," and so on. 

It was this same mixture of official military sponsorship and prop- 
agandists of the radical right that characterized dozens of similar 
seminars around the country. On April 21, 1961, the Chamber of 
Commerce of Greater Pittsburgh sponsored a Fourth-Dimensional 
Warfare Seminar, with the cooperation of the commanding general 
of the 2nd U. S. Army, Lieutenant General Ridgely Gaither, and his 
staff, at whose sessions the House Un-American Activities Commit- 
tee film Operation Abolition was shown, and the principal speaker, 
Admiral Chester Ward (ret.), attacked Adlai Stevenson and George 
Kennan, as advisers to the President whose "philosophies regarding 
foreign affairs would chill the typical American." A Strategy for 
Survival conference held on April 14th and 15th in Fort Smith, 
FayettevOle, and Little Rock, Arkansas, sponsored by the local Cham- 
ber of Commerce and promoted by Major General Bullock, the 
area commander, heard speakers from Harding College, a small 
Baptist institution in Searcy, Arkansas, which has been the source 
of much extreme right-wing material. And on the program was the 
film Communism on the Map, prepared by Harding College, which 
equates Socialism with Communism, A Project Alert was organized 
at the Pensacola Naval Air Training station, in Florida, based on 
Harding College materials, and the program was repeated in similar 
"alerts" in Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. Dr. Fred C Schwarz 
held a seminar at the headquarters of the 8th Naval District, in 
New Orleans, which was endorsed by the Commandant, Rear Ad- 
miral W. G. Schindler. A Houston Freedom Forum was held by 
Schwarz's Christian Anti-Communism Crusade at which Admiral 
F. W, Warder gave the keynote address. 

And so it went. In almost every area of the country, seminars, 
schools, and projects, organized by the military or by business groups 
in cooperation with the military, spread the propaganda of the radi- 
cal right and gave a broad aura of authority and legitimacy to such 
propaganda and to such pitchmen of the radical right as the Rever- 
end Dr. Schwarz and the Reverend Billy Hargis. 

The Dispossessed 1962 13 

The Crisis in National Style 

Every country has a "national style," a distinctive way of meeting 
the problems of order and adaptation, of conflict and consensus, of 
individual ends and communal welfare, that confront any society. 
The "national style," or the characteristic way of response, is a com- 
pound of the values and the national character of a country. 5 As 
anyone who has read travelers' accounts knows, there has long been 
agreement on the characteristics of the American style. 

The American has been marked by his sense of achievement, his 
activism, his being on the move, his eagerness for experience. Amer- 
ica has always been "future-oriented/' Europe represented the past, 
with its hierarchies, its fixed statuses, its ties to antiquity. The Ameri- 
can "makes" himself, and in so doing transforms himself, society, 
and nature, In Jefferson's deism, God was not a transcendental 
being but a "Workman" whose intricate design was being unfolded 
on the American continent. The achievement pattern envisaged an 
"endless future," a life of constant improvement. Education meant 
preparation for a career rather than cultivation. When Samuel Gom- 
pers, the immigrant labor leader, was asked what labor's goal was, 
he gauged the American spirit shrewdly in answering, simply, 

Hand in hand with achievement went a sense of optimism, the 
feeling that life was tractable, the environment manipulable, that 
anything was possible. The American, the once-born man, was the 
"sky-blue, healthy-minded moralist" to whom sin and evil were, in 
Emerson's phrase, merely the "soul's mumps and measles and 
whooping cough." In this sense the American has been Graham 
Greene's "quiet American" or, to Santayana, "inexperienced of poi- 
sons." And for this reason Europeans have always found America 
lacking in a sense of the esthetic, the tragic, or the decadent. 7 

American achievement and masculine optimism created a buoyant 
sense of progress, almost of omnipotence. America had never been 
defeated. America was getting bigger and better. America was al- 
ways first. It had the tallest buildings, the biggest dams, the largest 
cities. "The most striking expression of [the American's] material- 
ism," remarked Santayana, "is his singular preoccupation with 

14 The Radical Right 

And all of this was reflected in distinctive aspects of character. 
The emphasis on achievement was an emphasis on the individual 
The idea that society was a system of social arrangements that acts 
to limit the range of individual behavior was an abstraction essen- 
tially alien to American thought; reality was concrete and empirical, 
and the individual was the moral unit of action. That peculiar 
American inversion of Protestantism, the moralizing style, found its 
focus in the idea of reform, but it was the reform of the individual^ 
not of social institutions. To reform meant to remedy the defects of 
character, and the American reform movement of the nineteenth 
century concentrated on sin, drink, gambling, prostitution, and other 
aspects of individual behavior. In politics, the moralistic residue led 
to black-and-white judgments: if anything was wrong, the individual 
was to blame. Since there were good men and bad men, the problem 
was to choose the good and eschew the bad. Any defect in policy 
flowed from a defect in the individual, and a change in policy could 
begin only by finding the culprit. 

All of this the pattern of achievement, of optimism and progress* 
and the emphasis on the individual as the unit of concern found 
expression in what W. W. Rostow has called the "classic" American 
style. 8 It was one of ad-hoc compromise derived from an implicit 
consensus. In the American political debates, there was rarely, ex- 
cept for the Civil War, an appeal to "first principles," as, say, in 
France, where every political division was rooted in the alignments 
of the French Revolution, or in the relationship of the Catholic 
Church to the secular state. In the United States, there were three 
unspoken assumptions: that the values of the individual were to be 
maximized, that the rising material wealth would dissolve all strains 
resulting from inequality, and that the continuity of experience 
would provide solutions for all future problems, 

In the last fifteen years, the national self-consciousness has re- 
ceived a profound shock. At the end of World War II, American 
productivity and American prodigality were going to inspire an 
archaic Europe and a backward colonial system. But the American 
century quickly vanished. The fall of China, the stalemate in Korea, 
the eruption of anti-colonialism (with the United States cast be- 
wilderingly among the arch-villains), the higher growth rates in the 
western European economies at a time when growth in this country 
has slowed considerably, and the continued claims of Khrushchev 

The Dispossessed 1962 15 

that Communism is the wave of the future have by now shattered 
the earlier simple-minded belief Americans had in their own omnip- 
otence, and have left almost a free-floating anxiety about the future. 
In a crudely symbolic way, the Russian sputniks trumped this coun- 
try on its own ground the boastful claim of always being first. 
Getting to the moon first may be, as many scientists assert, of little 
scientific value, and the huge sums required for such a venture might 
be spent more wisely for medical work, housing, or scientific re- 
search, but having set the "rules of the game," the United States 
cannot now afford to withdraw just because, in its newly acquired 
sophistication, it has perhaps begun to realize that such competitions 
are rather chMshT| 

But these immediate crises of nerve only reflect deeper challenges 
to the adequacy of America's classic national style. That style, with 
its ad-hoc compromise and day-to-day patching, rather than con- 
sistent policy formation, no longer gives us guides to action. The 
classic notion was that rights inhered in individuals. 

realization of the past thirty years is that not the individual but 
collectivities corporations, labor unions, farm organizations, pres- 
sure groups have become the units of social action, and that in- 
dividual rights in many instances derive from group rights, arid in 
others have become fused with them. Other than the thin veil of the 
"public consensus," we have few guide lines, let alone a principle of 
distributive justice, to regulate or check the arbitrary power of many 
of these collectivities. 

A second sign that the classic style has broken down appears in the 
lack of any institutional means for creating and maintaining neces- 
sary public services. On the municipal level, the complicated politi- 
cal swapping among hundreds of dispersed polities within a unified 
economic region, each seeking its own bargains in water supply, 
sewage disposal, roads, parks, recreation areas, crime regulation, 
transit, and so on, makes a mockery of the ad-hoc process. Without 
some planning along viable regional lines, local community life is 
bound to falter under the burdens of mounting taxes and social 

And, third, foreign policy has foundered because every adminis- 
tration has had difficulty in defining a national interest, morally 
rooted, whose policies can be realistically tailored to the capacities 
and the constraints imposed by the actualities of world power. 

16 The Radical Right 

The easy temptation and it is the theme of the radical right is 
the tough-talking call for "action." This emphasis on action on 
getting things done, on results is a dominant aspect o! the tradi- 
tional American character. The moralizing style, with its focus on 
sin and on the culpability of the individual, finds it hard to accept 
social forces as a convincing explanation of failure, and prefers 
"action" instead. Americans have rarely known how to sweat it out, 
to wait, to calculate in historical terms, to learn that "action" can- 
not easily reverse social drifts whose courses were charted long ago, 
The "liberation" policy of the first Eisenhower administration was 
but a hollow moralism, deriving from the lack of any consistent 
policy other than the need to seem "activist" again part of the 
classic style rather than from a realistic assessment of the possibility 
of undermining Soviet power in eastern Europe. Until recently, there 
has been little evidence that American foreign policy is guided by 
a sense of historical time and an accurate assessment of social forces- 
Styles of action reflect the character of a society. The classic style 
was worked out during a period when America was an agrarian, 
relatively homogeneous society, isolated from the world at large, so 
that ad-hoc measures were a realistic way of dealing with new strains* 
As an adaptive mechanism, it served to bring new groups into the 
society. But styles of action, like rhetoric, have a habit of outliving 
institutions. And the classic style in no way reflects the deep struc- 
tural changes that have been taking place in American life in the 
past quarter of a century. 

The Sources of Strain 

Although the crisis in national style can be detected most force- 
fully in the realm of foreign policy, there have been, in the past 
thirty years, deep changes taking place in the social structure that 
are reworking the social map of the country, upsetting the estab- 
lished life-chances and outlooks of old, privileged groups, and creat- 
ing uncertainties about the future which are deeply unsettling to 
those whose values, were .sfeaped^ by the "individualist" morality of 
nineteenth-century America. 

The most pervasive changes are those involving the structural 
relations between class position and power. Clearly, today, political 

The Dispossessed 7962 17 

position rather than wealth, and technical skill rather than property, 
have become the bases from which power is wielded. In the modes of 
access to privilege, inheritance is no longer all-determining, nor does 
"individual initiative" in building one's own business exist as a real- 
istic route; in general, education has become the major way to 
acquire the technical skills necessary for the administrative and 
power-wielding jobs in society. 

In the older mythos, one's achievement was an individual fact 
as a doctor, lawyer, professor, businessman; in the reality of today, 
one's achievement, status, and prestige are rooted in particular col- 
lectivities (the corporation, being attached to a "name" hospital, 
teaching at a prestigious university, membership in a good law firm), 
and the individual's role is necessarily submerged in the achieve- 
ment of the collectivity. Within each collectivity and profession, the 
proliferation of tasks calls for narrower and narrower specializa- 
tions, and this proliferation requires larger collectivities, and the 
consequent growth of hierarchies and bureaucracies. 

The new nature of decision-making the larger role of technical 
decision also forces a displacement of the older elites. Within a 
business enterprise, the newer techniques of operations research and 
linear programming almost amount to the "automation" of middle 
management, and its displacement by mathematicians and engi- 
neers, working either within the firm or as consultants. In the econ- 
omy, the businessman finds himself subject to price, wage, and in- 
vestment criteria laid down by the economists in government. In the 
polity, the old military elites find themselves challenged in the de- 
termination of strategy by scientists, who have the technical knowl- 
edge on nuclear capability, missile development, and the like, or by 
the "military intellectuals" whose conceptions of weapon systems and 
political warfare seek to guide military allocations. 

In the broadest sense, the spread of education, of research, of 
administration, and of government creates a new constituency, the 
technical and professional intelligentsia, and while these are not 
bound by some common ethos to constitute a new class, or even a 
cohesive social group, they are the products of a new system of 
recruitment for power (just as property and inheritance represented 
the old system), and those who _are the products, of 
understandably, feel a, .. vague and apprehensive di&quiet4iL&,, , 
guiet of the 

18 The Radical Right 

The Generational Dispossessed 

Many of the political changes that have transformed American so- 
ciety originated in measures taken thirty and more years ago. In many 
instances, the changes have been irrevocably built into the structure 
of American society. Why then have the consequences of these 
changes and the reactions to them become so manifest, and pro- 
duced such rancor, at this time? 

It was Walter Bagehot who said that the Reform BiU of 1832 
was "won" in 1865 that political reforms are secured largely 
through generational change. New legislation may stipulate a set of 
reforms, but the administration of the law, its judicial interpretation, 
and its enforcement are in the hands of an older political generation 
which may hinder the changes. Only when the new generation comes 
of age are the judiciary and the bureaucracy taken over, and men 
educated in the "new spirit of the time'* come into the established 
framework of power. 

In this sense, the social enactments of the New Deal came to 
fruition thirty years later. While the Roosevelt administration created 
a host of new regulatory agencies, the judiciary, in its values and 
social outlook, largely reflected the ancien rSgime* and even though 
there was no entrenched bureaucracy, like those of Germany, 
France, or Britain, that would impede or distort these reforms, the 
lack of a broad intelligentsia made it difficult to staff the regulatory 
agencies without drawing in the business community, the trade as- 
sociations, and the like. Thus, while the enactments of the Roosevelt 
administration seemed to many conservatives to be startlingly revo- 
lutionary, the business community the main group whose power 
was abated could, through the courts, Congress, and often the ad- 
ministrative agencies, modify substantially the restrictions of the reg- 

The paradoxical fact is that while the New Deal has lost much of 
its meaning on the ideological or rhetorical level, the fabric of gov- 
ernment, particularly the judiciary, has been rewoven with liberal 
thread so that on many significant issues civil rights, minority- 
group protection, the extension of social welfare the courts have 
been more liberal than the administrations. Only Congress, reflect- 

The Dispossessed 7962 19 

ing the disproportionate power of the rural areas and the established 
seniority system, has remained predominantly under conservative 

In identifying "the dispossessed," it is somewhat misleading to 
seek their economic location, since it is not economic interest alone 
that accounts for their anxieties. A small businessman may have 
made considerable amounts of money in the last decade (in part 
because he has greater freedom than a large corporation in mask- 
ing costs for tax purposes), and yet strongly resent regulations 
in Washington, the high income tax, or, more to the point, his own 
lack of status. To the extent that any such economic location is pos- 
sible, one can say that the social group most threatened by the 
structural changes in society is the "old" middle class the inde- 
pendent physician, farm owner, small-town lawyer, real-estate pro- 
moter, home builder, automobile dealer, gasoline-station owner, small 
businessman, and the like and that, regionally, its greatest political 
concentration is in the South and the Southwest, and in California. 
But ajsaafilLJ&ffl^ 

ffimus since life-styles and values provide the emotional fuel of 
beliefs and actions is.Jfte^fj^^ 

nativist nationalism, of gopd-and-eyil moral^sm whkkistbo^aB^ 
izing basis for the "world view" of such people. 9 For this is the 
group whose values predominated in the nineteenth century, and 
which for the past forty years has been fighting a rear-guard action. 

The present upsurge of American nativism one aspect of the 
radical right is most directly paralleled in the 1920s, in the viru- 
lent assaults on teachers' loyalty by the fundamentalist churchmen 
in the name of God, and by patriotic organizations like the American 
Legion in the name of country. These conflicts expressed most 
directly in the Scopes trial on the teaching of evolution in Tennessee, 
and the bellicose efforts of Mayor Big Bill Thompson in Chicago to 
expunge favorable references to Great Britain from the school text- 
books were between "fundamentalists" and "modernists," between 
"patriots" and "internationalists." 

These skirmishes of the 1920s were the first defensive attacks of 
the nativist and the old middle-class elements. They arose in reaction 
to the entry into society of formerly "disenfranchised" elements, 
particularly the children of immigrants and members of minority 

20 The Radical Right 

ethnic groups an entry made through the urban political machines, 
the only major route open to them. In short, it was a reaction to the 
rise of a mass society. 

Until the mid-192Qs, America in its top and middle layers had 
been, politically and culturally, a fairly homogeneous society. As 
Walter Lippmann pointed out in 1928, in a neglected but prescient 
account of the times, American Inquisitors, "those who differed in 
religion or nationality from the great mass of the people played no 
important part in American politics. They did the menial work, 
they had no influence in society, they were not self-conscious and 
they produced no leaders of their own. There were some sectarian 
differences and some sectional differences within the American na- 
tion. But by and large, within the states themselves, the dominant 
group was like-minded and its dominion was unchallenged." 10 

But in time its dominion was challenged, and principally from the 
cities. The year 1920 was the first in American history when a 
majority of persons lived in "urban territory." 11 The children and 
the grandchildren of the immigrants began to come of political age. 
The movement to the cities and the gradual cultural ascendancy of 
metropolitan life over rural areas, accentuated by the rise of the 
automobile, motion pictures, and radio creating, for the first time, 
a national popular culture began to threaten established customs 
and beliefs. Thus, there was no longer, as Lippmann pointed out at 
the time, "a well-entrenched community, settled in its customs, 
homogeneous in its manners, clear in its ultimate beliefs. There is 
great diversity, and therefore there are the seeds of conflict." 

Faced with the rise of "heretical" beliefs, the religious fundamen- 
talists in Tennessee put forth the argument, self-evident to them, 
that teaching in the schools ought to conform to the views of the 
majority. If the people of Tennessee did not believe in evolution, 
they had a right to demand that it be stopped. And as Lippmann 
wryly commented, there was warranty for such a populist demand in 
Jefferson's bill for the establishment of religious freedom in Virginia, 
in 1786, which declared that "to compel a man to furnish contri- 
butions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, 
is sinful and tyrannical." 

Intellectually, the fundamentalists were defeated and the modern- 
ists won; their views came to predominate in the country. But the 
fundamentalist temper of the 1920s still holds strong sway in rural- 

The Dispossessed 1962 21 

dominated states. As David Danzig has pointed out, "the States that 
repudiated Darwinianism and Al Smith are today prominent among 
those nineteen that have passed 'Right to Work' laws since 1950. " 12 
And, paradoxically, although they have become intellectually and 
socially dispossessed, the fundamentalist "regions" have risen to new 
wealth in the last fifteen years or so. The industrialization of the 
South and Southwest, the boom in real estate, the gushing wealth of 
oil in Texas and Oklahoma have transformed the fundamentalist 
churches and the Southern Baptist movement into a middle-class 
and upper-middle-class group. Small wonder that, possessing this 
new wealth, the fundamentalist groups have discovered the iniquity 
of the income tax. 

The social ideas of fundamentalism are quite traditional a re- 
turn to the "simple" virtues of individual initiative and self-reli- 
ance. 13 In political terms, this means dismantling much of the 
social-security program, eliminating the income tax, reducing the 
role of the federal government in economic life, and giving back to 
the states and local government the major responsibilities for wel- 
fare, labor, and similar legislation. 14 

Until now, much of the political strength of the right has stemmed 
from its ability to block the reapportionment of seats in the 
state legislatures (and to gerrymander seats for Congress), resulting 
in a heavily disproportionate representation of the small-town and 
rural areas in both assemblies. In Tennessee whose flagrant failure^ 
to act precipitated the Supreme Court decision in April, 1962, order- 
ing the reallocation of seats although the state constitution speci- 
fied that a reapportionment be made every ten years, the state 
legislature, since 1901, had rejected all bills attempting to carry out 
that mandate. As a result, in the voting for the Tennessee State 
Senate, one-third of the electorate nominated two-thirds of the legis- 
lators. In almost every state of the Union one could point to similarly 
glaring disproportions though none so astounding as in California, 
where the single state senator from Los Angeles represents 6,038,- 
771 persons, while a colleague from a rural area represents 
14,294 persons, a ratio of 422.5 to 1. In forty-four states, less than 
forty per cent of the population can elect a majority of the state 
legislators; in thirteen states, fewer than a third of the voters can 
elect a majority. How quickly this will change, now that the federal 
courts are empowered to act, remains to be seen. 

22 The Radical Right 

The Managerial Dispossessed 

To list the managerial executive class as among the dispossessed 
may seem strange, especially in the light of the argument that a 
revolution which is undermining property as the basis of power is 
enfranchising a new class of technical personnel among whom are 
the business executives. And yet the managerial class has been un- 
der immense strain aU through this period, a strain arising in part 
from the status discrepancy between 'their power within a particular 
enterprise and their power and prestige in the nation as a whole. 

The old family firm was securely rooted in the legal and moral 
tradition of private property. The enterprise "belonged" to the owner, 
and was sanctioned, depending on one's theological tastes, by God 
or by Natural Law. The modern manager lacks the inherited family 
justifications, for increasingly he is recruited from the amorphous 
middle class. He receives a salary, bonus, options, expense accounts, 
and "perks" (use of company planes, memberships in country 
clubs), but his power is transitory, and he cannot pass on his posi- 
tion to Ms son. 15 

In order to justify his position, the manager needs an ideology* 
In no other capitalist order but -the American not in England, or 
Germany, or France has this drive for ideology been so compul- 
sive. This ideology is no longer derived from private property but 
from enterprise, the argument being that only the American corpo- 
rate system can provide for economic performance. But if perform- 
ance is 'the test, then the American manager more and more finds 
himself in a sorry position. The growth rate of the American econ- 
omy in the past decade has been surprisingly small. And the "legit- 
imacy" of the manager the question of who gives him the right to 
wield such enormous economic power has been challenged in a 
series of powerful arguments by Berle, Galbraith, and others. 

Within the enterprise, the new corporation head often finds him- 
self with the vexing problem of trying to "downgrade" the impor- 
tance of the trade-union leader in order to raise his own status. In 
an age when management is deemed to be a great and novel skiE, 
involving the administration of production, research, finance, mer- 
chandising, public relations, and personnel, the company president 
feels that there is little reason now to treat union leaders as equals 

The Dispossessed 1962 23 

especially when labor is, after all, only one of a large number of 
the "co-ordinates of administration." Labor relations, he feels, 
should be reduced to their proper dimension, as a concern of the 
personnel manager. 

Yet the corporation head is often unable to obtain even this satis- 
faction as has been evident in the steel industry. For years the in- 
dustry smarted at the union's power, particularly at U. S. Steel, 
where in 1957 a new management team, headed by Roger Blough, 
a lawyer with no experience in production, took over. Blough's pred- 
ecessor, Ben Fairless, an old production hand who had come up 
through the mUl, had cleverly sought to assuage the vanity of Dave 
McDonald, the steel-union president, by joint "walking tours" 
through the plant. There was talk of "mutual trusteeship" by the 
managers of capital and the managers of labor. But Blough would 
have none of this charade, and when it was evident that because of 
slack demand the industry could take a strike, it did so. 

The strike lasted three months and ended only with the interven- 
tion of Vice-President Nixon and Labor Secretary Mitchell (after 
Blough and McDonald met secretly at the Vice-President's home), 
who feared the political consequences in the 1960 campaign of such 
a long-drawn-out straggle. The strike proved in this, as in a dozen 
other areas, that the industry could not escape the checkrein of 
government not even in a Republican administration. This was 
demonstrated even more dramatically by Roger Blough's comeup- 
pance in 1962. In the spring of 1962 the Kennedy administration, 
in an effort to maintain the wage-price line, brought pressure on the 
steel union to sign an early contract that provided some small fringe 
benefits but, for the first time in the union's history, no direct wage 
increase. Shortly afterward, however, U. S. Steel, followed by most 
of the industry, announced an immediate price rise. In a burst of 
fury, the colossal weight of the federal government was mobilized 
against the big steel firms through threats of prosecution, cancella- 
tion of government purchase orders, and the cajoling of the business 
community and in short order the industry gave in. 

It is unlikely that the business community will take this crashing 
demonstration of governmental power without making some coun- 
tervailing efforts of its own on the political level. Already in 1960 
the efforts of a number of corporations, led by General Electric, to 
go "directly" into politics, in imitation of the unions by taking a 

24 The Radical Right 

public stand on political issues, by sending out vast amounts of 
propaganda to their employees and to the public, by encouraging 
right-to-work referendum^ in the states indicated the mood of po- 
litical dispossession in many corporations. Since then, a significant 
number of corporations have been contributing financially to the 
seminars of the radical-right evangelists. 16 Despite the black eye 
General Electric the most vocal defender of free enterprise re- 
ceived when the government disclosed that G.E. as well as a dozen 
other electrical manufacturing companies had been guilty of illegal 
price-rigging and cartelization, it is likely that the Kennedy-Blough 
imbroglio of 1962 will provide an even greater impetus for corpora- 
tions to finance right-wing political activity in the coming years. 


The Military Dispossessed 

The irony for the American military establishment is that at a 
time when, in the new states, the military has emerged as the ruling 
force of the country (often because it is the one organized group in 
an amorphous society), 17 and at a time in American history when 
the amount of money allocated to military purposes roughly fifty 
per cent of the federal budget is the highest in peacetime history, 
the military is subject to challenges in its own bailiwick. The prob- 
lems of national security, like those of the national economy, have 
become so staggeringly complex that they can no longer be settled 
simply by common sense or past experience. As a writer in the 
Times Literary Supplement recently put it, "The manner in which 
weapons systems are likely to develop; the counters which may be 
found to them; the burdens which they are likely to impose on the 
national economy; the way in which their possession will affect in- 
ternational relations or their use the nature of war; the technical 
problems of their control or abolition; all these problems are far 
beyond the scope of the Joint Planning Staff study or the Civil 
Service brief." 18 

The fact is that the military establishment, because of its out- 
moded curriculum, its recruitment and promotion patterns, the 
vested interests of the different services, and the concentration at 
the top levels of officers trained in older notions of strategy, is ill 
equipped to grasp modern conceptions of politics, or to use the tools 

The Dispossessed 1962 25 

(computer simulation, linear programming, gaming theory) of 
strategic planning. As Morris Janowitz has pointed out in his com- 
prehensive study of the military: 

There is little in the curriculum to prepare the officer for the realities 
of participating in the management of politico-nulitary affairs. While 
the case-study and war-games approaches give the officer a direct under- 
standing and "feel" for the logistics and organizational apparatus that 
must be "moved" for military operations, there is no equivalent training 
for the political dimensions of international relations. . . . 

All evidence indicates that both absolutists and pragmatists in vary- 
ing degree overemphasize the potentials of force. The realistic study 
of international relations involves an appreciation of the limits of vio- 
lence. Military education does not continually focus on these issues, 
as it relates both to nuclear and limited conventional warfare. Paradoxi- 
cally, military education does not emphasize the potentialities of uncon- 
ventional warfare and political warfare, since these are at the periphery 
of professionalization. 19 

In the last decade, most of the thinking on strategic problems, 
political and economic, has been done in the universities or in gov- 
ernment-financed but autonomous bodies like the Rand Corporation. 
A new profession, that of the "military intellectual," has emerged, 
and men like Kahn, Wohlstetter, Brodie, Hitch, Kissinger, Bowie, 
and Schelling "move freely through the corridors of the Pentagon 
and the State Department," as the T.L.S. writer observed, "rather 
as the Jesuits through the courts of Madrid and Vienna three cen- 
turies ago." _ 

In structural terms, the military establishment may be one of the 
tripods of a "power elite," but in sociological fact the military officers 
feel dispossessed because they often lack the necessary technical 
skills or knowledge to answer the new problems confronting them. 
Since the end of World War II, the military has been involved in a 
number of battles to defend its elite position, beginning in 1945 with 
the young physicists and nuclear scientists, down to the present ac- 
tion against the "technipols" (the technicians and political theorists, 
as the military derisively calls them), whom Secretary McNamara 
has brought into the Department of Defense. 

The first challenge came from the scientists over the issue of con- 
tinuing military control of atomic energy. In a burst of almost H. G. 
Wellsian messianism, the scientists moved into the political arena. 

26 The Radical Right 

And, as a result of skillful lobbying by enthusiastic young scientists 
from Los Alamos, Chicago, and Brookhaven, Congress passed the 
McMahon Bill, which set up the Atomic Energy Commission under 
civilian control. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific head of the 
Manhattan District project, which constructed the atom bomb, be- 
came a leading adviser to the State Department and was one of the 
principal authors of the Baruch plan. 

The advent of the Cold War, in 1947-48, raised a number of 
issues that divided the scientists and the military even further, and 
for the next four years a "hidden struggle" between the two elites 
went on in the labyrinthine corridors of Washington. The chief issue 
was whether or not to build an H-bomb. The scientists in the Gen- 
eral Advisory Committee to the A.E.C., in overwhelming major- 
ity including Oppenheimer, Conant, Rabi, duBridge opposed the 
construction of the H-bomb, but lost out. A different issue was raised 
about the need for defense. The Strategic Air Command, the big- 
bomber striking arm of American power, argued that no defense 
against atomic attack was possible and claimed that the only effective 
deterrent against the Russians would be the threat of massive 
retaliation. In strategy, this would mean reliance solely on heavy 
atomic bombs. Against the SA.C, the scientists claimed that conti- 
nental defense was possible if the United States could be made 
invulnerable to attack, negotiations with the Russians could be 
opened from strength and, furthermore, that western Europe could 
be defended with limited, tactical atomic weapons, so that the United 
States was not wholly dependent upon "big-bomb" deterrents. 

To test their arguments, the scientists got support in some cases 
surreptitiously from backers in the National Security Council for a 
series of "games." Project Lincoln was set up at M.I.T. to study the 
problems of defense, which resulted later in the radar net of the 
D.E.W., or early-warning system, in the Arctic. Project Vista, which 
enlisted some five score scientists from different universities, was set 
up at the California Institute of Technology to study the use of 
tactical atomic weapons. 

The S.A.C. pooh-poohed both projects, deriding continental de- 
fense as a Maginot Line of the air. And it sought to block the dis- 
tribution of both projects' findings. Eventually, the results from the 
two laboratories were adopted. An early-warning system was created, 
and the N.A.T.O. strategy was revised, which meant, in effect, that 
the SA.C. monopoly of atomic policy was broken. 

The Dispossessed 1962 27 

Although Robert Oppenheimer had not been the prime instigator 
of these moves except in the case of Project Vista he became 
the symbol of the scientific opposition to the big-bomber command. 
In November, 1953, when Lewis Strauss was appointed by Presi- 
dent Eisenhower to the chairmanship of the Atomic Energy Com- 
mission, Oppenheimer was charged with being a security risk. The 
basis of the charge that Oppenheimer had in the later 1930s been 
sympathetic to a number of Communist fronts had long been 
known to the security agencies. But the real inspiration for the 
A.E.C. action., as is evident from testimony before its special panel, 
came from men who believed fervently in the theory of strategic 
air power, who resented Oppenheimer's influence, and could draw 
only sinister conclusions from his stands on policy. 20 

The Oppenheimer case is now almost a decade behind us, and a 
shameful instance of national folly; the specific strategic issues re- 
garding the role of manned bombers as the major weight of military 
power have by now been outmoded by the work on missiles. The 
originally smaE scientific community, whose members, drawn from 
a few university centers, knew each other intimately, has greatly 
expanded, and with the rise of space exploration, missile tech- 
nology, and the like, it is no longer dominated by the small group of 
nuclear physicists who charted the new atomic age. Nor does it any 
longer, needless to say, have the rough unanimity of outlook that 
characterized it in the immediate postwar decade. And yet, though 
the military won the first round of their fight with the nuclear scien- 
tists, in the present decade its position as the shaper, as well as the 
executor, of strategic policy has been consistently eroded. For in 
present-day decision-making, the nature of strategy involves a kind 
of analysis for which experience is insufficient. If one takes the com- 
plex problem of the choice of "weapons systems," the long lead time 
that is necessary in the planning and testing, let alone the produc- 
tion, of weapons forces an analyst to construct mathematical models 
as almost the only means toward rational choices. The recent con- 
troversy over the desirability of the RS-70 bomber is a case in point. 
The systems analysts in the office of the Secretary of Defense, led by 
Charles Hitch, an economist from Rand who has become the comp- 
troller in the Pentagon, decided on the basis of computer analysis 
that the manned RS-70 bomber would long be outmoded by the 
time it could come into full production, and that it would be wiser to 
concentrate on missiles. 21 Dismayed by this decision, the Strategic 

28 The Radical Right 

Air Command and its allies in the aircraft industry invoked Con- 
gressional support, and the House Military Affairs Committee voted 
money for the bomber. 

But the "technipols," with McNamara at their head, have gone far 
beyond the use of linear programming or other planning devices for 
making more rational choices in the allocation of military resources. 
The entire Pentagon has been almost completely reorganized so as 
to reduce the importance of the traditional service arms Army, 
Navy, Air Force, and Marines and to introduce "functional" 
groupings, whereby missions from each of the services are grouped 
together for budget and strategic purposes in order to test their effec- 

The point of all this is that such reorganization means more than 
the introduction of modern management practice into a top-heavy 
bureaucratic structure. For the reorganization on program and mis- 
sion lines stemmed from a new conception of the strategic distribu- 
tion of the armed forces a political conception of the role of limited 
wars and nuclear capabilities, most of which came from the "techni- 
pols," rather than from the military establishment. 

The traditional services, and their chiefs, have reacted to all this 
with dismay. As an article in Fortune put it, "It was at this point 
that the military professionals began to exhibit real alarm. 
McNamara did not ignore them; they had their say, as usual, in 
defense of their service budgets. But his drive, his intense preoccupa- 
tion with figures and facts, left the Chiefs and their staffs with the 
feeling that the computers were taking over." And the Fortune arti- 
cle, reflecting the dismay of the service Chiefs, was also a veiled at- 
tack on McNamara's penchant for "quantification"; for his failure 
to respect "the uncomputable that had made Curtis Le May [the 
head of the big-bomber command] the world's finest operational air- 
man"; for his "inexperience" in military strategy and for his reliance 
on the technipols, "the inner group of lay experts who were dispersed 
through State, the White House and Defense." The import of the 
article was clear: the traditional military professionals were being 
dispossessed. 22 

On any single set of political or strategic issues, it is an exaggera- 
tion, of course, to speak of "the military," or "the scientists," or "the 
military intellectuals," as if these were monolithic entities. On any 
particular set of issues, or even on fundamental values, members of 
the scientific community are often sharply at odds (for example, 

The Dispossessed 1962 29 

Edward Teller and Hans Bethe), as are the political strategists, 
from the "protracted-conflict" line of the University of Pennsylvania 
group (Strausz-Hupe and Kintner) to the various arms-control and 
bargaining or negotiation schemes advanced by Thomas Schelling 
and Hans Morgenthau. 

But the main point is that the military community is no longer the 
only, or even the dominant, source from which the strategists are 
drawn, and the older military leaders particularly, with vested in- 
terests in military doctrines and weapons systems derived from their 
own by now parochial experiences, find themselves in danger of 
being ignored or shelved. A few Major General Walker is an ex- 
ample may feel that all intellectuals are involved in a plot against 
the nation. No doubt most of the military men will be forced, as is 
already happening, into the more complex and bureaucratic game of 
recruiting particular groups of scientists for their own purposes (in 
part through the power of the purse), or attempting to make alli- 
ances. In the long ran, the military profession may itself become 
transformed through new modes of training, and a new social type 
may arise. 

But one can already see, in the behavior of retired military of- 
ficers, the rancor of an old guard that now finds its knowledge out- 
dated and its authority disputed or ignored, and that is beginning to 
argue, bitterly, that if only "their" advice had been followed, Amer- 
ica would not be on the defensive. A surprising number of high- M 
ranking officers on active duty as well as high-ranking retired officers 
have become active in extreme-right organizations. The Institute of 
American Strategy, which is financed by the Richardson Foundation 
a foundation set up by the late Sid Richardson, who, along with 
H. L. Hunt, was among the richest of the new Texas oil billionaires 
has on its board, and among its members, Rear Admiral Raw- 
son Bennett, Chief of Naval Research; Lieutenant General E. C. 
Itschner, Chief of Engineers; Rear Admiral H. Arnold Karo; Lieu- 
tenant General George W. Mundy, Commandant of the Industrial 
College of the Armed Forces; and General E. W. Rawlings (U.S.A.F., 
ret.), the executive vice-president of General Mills, Inc. The 
American Security Council, for example, lists on its national strategy 
committee such retired officers as Admiral Arthur W. Radford, for- 
mer chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been one of 
the leading exponents of "massive retaliation"; General Albert C. 

30 The Radical Right 

Wedemeyer, who served in China; Lieutenant General Edward M. 
Almond; Admiral Felix B. Stump; Admiral Ben Moreell (now head 
of the Republic Steel Corporation); and Rear Admiral Chester 

More active as anti-Communist entrepreneurs are some lesser 
lights who have held Army posts, often in Intelligence work, and 
who seek political status accordingly. Thus Brigadier General Bonner 
Fellows (ret.), a wartime aide to General MacArthur, is the national 
director of a group called For America, and chairman of the Citizens 
Foreign Aid Committee, which, despite its name, seeks to reduce 
foreign aid. Lieutenant Colonel Gunther Hartel (ret.), a former 
Intelligence officer in Europe and the Far East, heads an organization 
called American Strategy, Inc. These and other retired officers are 
active in the various "seminars" and public meetings organized by 
the radical-right groups. 

The stock in trade of almost all these individuals is the argument, 
reinforced by references to their experiences, that negotiation or co- 
existence with Communists is impossible, that anyone who discusses 
the possibility of such negotiation is a tool of the Communists, and 
that a "tough policy" by which, sotto voce, is meant a preventive 
war or a first strike is the only means of fores-tailing an eventual 
Communist victory. 


The Polarities of American Politics 

and the Prospects of the Radical Right 

A meaningful polarity within the American coftstnsus has always 
been part of the American search for self-definition and self-identity: 
Jefferson versus Hamilton, Republicanism versus Federalism, Agrar- 
ianism versus Capitalism, the frontier West versus the industrial 
East. However significant such polarities may have been in the past, 
there seems to be little meaningful polarity today. There is no coher- 
ent conservative force and someone like Walter Lippmann, whose 
The Public Philosophy represents a genuine conservative voice, re- 
jects the right, as it rejects him and the radical right is outside the 
political pale, insofar as it refuses to accept the American consensus. 
Nor does a viable left exist in the United States today.. The pacifist 
and Socialist elements have been unable to make ih$ \peace issue 
salient. The radicals have been unable to develop a comprehensive 

The Dispossessed 1962 31 

critique of the social disparities in American life the urban mess, 
the patchwork educational system, the lack of amenities in our cul- 
ture. Among the liberals, only the exhaustion of the "received ideas," 
such as they were, of the New Deal remains. It is a token of the 
emptiness of contemporary intellectual debate that from the view- 
point of the radical right, the Americans for Democratic Action con- 
stitutes the "extreme left" of the American political spectrum, and 
that Life, in order to set up a fictitious balance, counterposes the 
tiny Councils of Correspondence, a loosely organized peace group 
led by Erich Fromm and David Riesman, as the "extreme left," to 
the "extreme right" of the John Birch Society. 

The politics of conflict in any country inevitably has some emo- 
tional dimension, but in the United States, lacking a historically 
defined doctrinal basis as against the ideological divisions of Eu- 
rope it takes on, when economic-interest-group issues are lacking, 
a psychological or status dimension. In this psychological polarity, 
the right has ofteft been splenetic, while the mood of the left has 
traditionally been one of ressentiment. /To^y^the jjoKtics of the 
radical right is the politics of frustration the sour impotence of 
those who find themselves unable to understand, let alone command, 
the complex mass society that is the polity today. In our time, only 
the Negro community is fired by the politics of resentment and this 
resentment, based on a justified demand for equity, represents no 
psychological polarity to the radical right. 
real.kft to counterpoise to the right, ^the ir 
psychological target of that frustration. 

One of the "reasons ' wiiy'psyciioiogfcai politics can flare up so much 
more easily here thaa; say, in Great Britain is the essentially "popu- 
list" character of American institutions and the volatile role of public 
opinion. In the ill-defined, loosely articulated structure of American 
life, public opinion rather than law has been the more operative 
sanction against nonconformists and dissenters. Though Americans 
often respond to a problem with the phrase "there ought to be a 
law," their respect for law has been minimal, and during periods of 
extreme excitement, whether it be the vigilante action of a mob or 
the removal of a book from a school library, the punitive sanctions 
of opinion quickly supersede law. The very openness or egalitarian- 
ism of the American political system is predicated on the right of 
the people to know, and the Congressional committees, whether 
searching into the pricing policies of corporations or the political 

32 The Radical Right 

beliefs of individuals, have historically based their investigative 
claims on this populist premise. 

It has always been easier to "mobilize" public opinion on legisla- 
tion here than it is in England, and in the United States the masses 
of people have a more direct access to politics. 23 The Presidential- 
election system, (as against a ministerial system), with the candi- 
dates appealing to every voter and, if possible, shaking every hand, 
involves a direct relation to the electorate. And in the Congressional 
system, individual constituents, through letters, telephone calls, or 
personal visits, can get through immediately to their representatives 
to affect his vote. The Congressional system itself, with its elaborate 
scaffolding of Senatorial prerogative, often allows a maverick like 
Borah, Norris, or Robert La Follette to dominate the floor, or a 
rogue elephant like Huey Long or Joseph McCarthy to rampage 
against the operations of the government. 

But while the populist character of the political institutions and 
the sweeping influence of public opinion allow social movements to 
flare with brush-fire suddenness across the political timberland, the 
unwieldy party system, as well as the checks and balances of the 
Presidential and judicial structures, also act to constrain such move- 
ments. In a few instances, notably the temperance crusade, a social 
movement operating outside the party system was able to enforce a 
unitary conception of social behavior on the country; and even then 
prohibition was repealed in two decades. 

l^^ < 

that JiaSarEB^ e 

^ajsa^pLite^ '*~'"~ f -'"' r 

Within this perspective^ therefore, what are the prospects of the 
radical right? To what extent does it constitute a threat to demo- 
cratic politics in the United States? Some highly competent political 
observers write off the radical right as a meaningful political move- 
ment. As Richard Rovere has written, "The press treats the extreme 
Right as though it were a major tendency in American politics, 
and certain politicians are as much obsessed with it as certain others 
are with the extreme Left. If a day arrives when the extreme Right 
does become a major movement, the press and the obsessed politi- 
cians may have a lot to answer for. For the time being, there seems 
no reason to suppose that its future holds anything more than its 
present. There is no evidence at all that the recent proliferation of 
radical, and in some cases downright subversive, organizations of a 

The Dispossessed 1962 33 

Rightist tendency reflects or has been accompanied by a spread of 
ultraconservative views. On the contrary, what evidence there is sug- 
gests that the organizations are frantic efforts to prevent ultra-con- 
servatism from dying out." 24 

In his immediate assessment, Rovere is undoubtedly right. In the 
spring of 1962, both former Vice-president Nixon and Senator Gold- 
water had moved to dissociate themselves from the extremist right. 
Nixon quite sharply repudiated the Birchites, on the premise that 
they are already a political liability, and Goldwater did so more 
cautiously in expressing his concern that, if not the Birchites, then 
its leader, Robert Welch, may have gone too far. Yet the future is 
more open than Rovere suggests. It is in the very nature of an ex- 
tremist movement, given its tensed posture and its need to maintain 
a fever pitch, to mobilize, to be on the move, to act. It constantly has 
to agitate. Lacking any sustained dramatic issue, it can quickly wear 
itself out, as McCarthyism did. But to this extent the prospects of the 
radical right depend considerably on the international situation. If 
tljfiJntematiaDLg^situation becomes stable^ it isjikd^that the radical 
right may run quicHyjout^pl^steam. If it were to take a turn 
for the worse. if Laos and all of Vietnam were to fafl to He Com- 
munists; if, within the Western Hemisphere, the moderate regimes of 
Bolivia and Venezuela were to topple and the Communists take over 
thggJhcM^ drive 

for "immediate action," for a declaration of war in these areas, for 
a pre-emptive strike, or similar axioms of a "hard line." And since 
such conservatives as Nixon and Goldwater are committed, at least 
rhetorically, to a tough anti-Communist position, they would either 
be forced to go along with such an extreme policy or go under. 

Yet, given the severe strains in American life, the radical right 
does present a threat to American liberties, in a very different and 
less immediate sense. Democracy, as the sorry history of Europe has 
shown, is a fragile system, and if there is a lesson to be learned 
from the downfall of democratic government in Italy, Spain, Austria, 
and Germany, and from the deep divisions in France, it is that the 
crucial turning point comes, as Juan Linz has pointed out, when 
political parties or social movements can successfully establish "pri- 
vate armies" whose resort to violence street fightings, bombings, 
the break-up of their opponents' meetings, or simply intimidation 
cannot be controlled by the elected authorities, and whose use of 

34 The Radical Right 

violence is justified or made legitimate by the respectable elements 
in society. 

In America, the extreme-right groups of the late 1930s the 
Coughlinites, the German- American Bund, the native fascist groups 
all sought to promote violence, but they never obtained legitimate 
or respectable support. The McCarthyite movement of the early 
1950s, despite the rampaging antics of its eponymous leader, never 
dared go, at least rhetorically, outside the traditional framework in 
trying to establish loyalty and security tests. The Birchers, and the 
small but insidious group of Minutemen, as the epitome of the radi- 
cal right, are willing to tear apart the fabric of American society in 
order to instate their goals, and they did receive a temporary aura 
of legitimacy from the conservative right. 

Barbarous acts are rarely committed out of the blue. (As Freud 
says, first one commits oneself in words, and then in deeds.) Step 
by step, a society becomes accustomed to accept, with less and less 
moral outrage and with greater and greater indifference to legitimacy, 
'the successive blows. What is uniquely disturbing about the emer- 
gence of the radical right of the 1960s is the support it has been able 
to find among traditional community leaders who have themselves 
become conditioned, through an indiscriminate anti-Communism that 
equates any form of liberalism with Communism, to judge as re- 
spectable a movement which, if successful, can only end the liber- 
ties they profess to cherish. 

1 "Memorandum Submitted to the Department of Defense on Propaganda 
Activities of Military Personnel," by Senator Fulbright, Congressional Record, 
August 2, 1961, pp. 13436-13442. As the New York Times summarized 
this N.S.C. directive on June 17, 1961, "President Eisenhower and his top 
policy leaders decreed that the cold war could not be fought as a series of 
separate and often unrelated actions, as with foreign aid and propaganda. 
Rather, it must be fought with a concentration of all the resources of the 
Government and with the full understanding and support of the civilian popu- 
lation. It was decided, in particular, that the military should be used to 
reinforce the cold-war effort." 

2 1 am following here the account of Murray Kempton in the New York 
Post, October 26, 1961. 

3 Typical of this line is the question constantly reiterated by the Reverend 
Billy Hargis: "How can you, explain the mistakes of our leaders for the 
last 30 years if there aren't Communists giving them advice?" Hargis is one 
of the more flamboyant evangelists of the radical right. He publishes The 
Weekly Crusader, which contains a Foreign Intelligence Digest Section, 
written by Major General Charles A. Willoughby (ret,). Willoughby was 
General Douglas MacArthur's Intelligence chief in the Pacific. 

4 For a technical elaboration of this psychological mechanism, see Leon 

The Dispossessed 1962 35 

Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Row, Peterson; Chicago, 1957), 
especially Chapter 10, which reports the study of the rumor. Festinger's theory 
seeks to explain how individuals try to reconcile or, technically, "to reduce 
the dissonance" of the holding of two inconsistent beliefs at the same time; 
e.g., the belief that smoking reduces tension and the fear that smoking may 
produce cancer. When beliefs are specific, denial may be one simple means, 
conversion to an opposite view follows under certain specifiable conditions, or, 
if the apprehensions are vague, the creation of "fear-justifying" threats be- 
comes another mechanism. 

In the light of Festinger's theory, it would be interesting to confront a 
sample of the radical right with the problem of explaining the belief in the 
rising internal threat of Communist infiltration into government with the 
continued presence of J. Edgar Hoover the one figure who seems to be 
sacrosanct to the right as director of the F.B.I. Since Hoover has been 
in office all through the years when Communism was allegedly growing as an 
internal threat, how explain the inability of the F.B.I. to cope with it? One 
could say that the Communists were cleverer than Hoover, but that would 
tarnish his image. Or one could say that Hoover had been shackled by the 
successive administrations even a Republican one. But if that were the case, 
why would such a stalwart anti-Communist accept such shackles? One could 
retort that Hoover felt his role in office to be more important than a grand 
gesture of renunciation (such as General Walker's). But if the Communist 
infiltration has been so enormous as to extend almost to, if not into, the White 
House, why would he not step out and unmask the plot? But then, since the 
Communist threat may grow even greater, he would still be needed in office 
or, horrors to admit the thought, it may well be that, reversing G. K, Chester- 
ton's The Man Who Was Thursday, J. Edgar Hoover is himself the chief 
agent of the Communist conspiracy in America, and that could explain the 
protection the conspiracy has received so far. The possibilities of such a 
thought are clearly quite provoking, and it may well be that Robert Welch, 
in the privacy of his office, has entertained them. But if that were so, who, 
then, is immune from the plague? 

5 The "style" of a country, or of an organization, is in this sense a literary 
counterpart of the idea of an "operational code" the do's and don'ts that 
implicitly prescribe and proscribe permissible modes of action for an organi- 
zation or a group. For an explicit, technical application of this concept, see 
Nathan Leites, The Operational Code of the Politburo (New York, McGraw- 
Hill, 1951). 

6 One viewpoint argues that national character is rooted in the language 
system of each society. Thus, as an old joke has it, the Englishman earns 
his living; the Frenchman gagne (gains); the German verdient (earns with 
the connotation of serving); the American makes his livelihood; and the 
Hungarian keretznenni (looks for and finds) his living, 

? The forms of murder and the styles of pornography mirror a society, for 
they disclose ways in which, actually and vicariously, the society satisfies 
forbidden desires. Death in the American mode is impersonal, sudden, and 
violent, rather than a lingering disease, as, say, in The Magic Mountain. Por- 
nography in Mickey Spillane (in contrast with the French L'Histoire d'O, with 
its complex account of slavish female submission to sinister erotic wants) is a 
slashing, compulsive emphasis on brute masculinity which betrays its own 
fear of castration or impotence. 
In The American Style (Little, Brown, 1960), ed. by Biting E. Morrison. 

36 The Radical Right 

9 For an earlier discussion of the historical sources of this moralism, see 
Chapter 2. 

10 Walter Lippmann, American Inquisitors (New York, Macmillan, 1928). 

11 The sociological definition of "urban" using government statistical data 
is a difficult task. Thus, in 1920 about 54,157,000 persons lived in "urban 
territories" and 51,550,000 in "rural territories." But rural is defined, at the 
time, as places under 2500 population. Clearly many persons living in small 
towns partake of "rural" attitudes. Thus, in 1920 sixteen million of those in 
"urban territories" lived in towns under 25,000 population. If one takes the 
25,000 population as the dividing line between "urban" and "small town," 
then it was only in 1960 that a majority of Americans lived in urban areas. 
Since 1950, of course, the movement of city dwellers to the suburbs has com- 
plicated the definitional problem. If one takes the census definition of a 
metropolitan area as a guide (i.e., populations living within a county, or 
group of contiguous counties, possessing at least one city of 50,000 inhabit- 
ants), by 1950 slightly more than half of the United States population lived 
within metropolitan areas. (For the confirmable data, see The Historical 
Statistics of the United States, Series A, 195-209, and the Statistical Abstract 
of the U.S., I960, pp. 14-15.) 

12 "The Radical Right and the Rise of the Fundamentalist Minority," Com- 
mentary, April, 1962. 

13 As for the actual meaning of these ideas, as Richard Hofstadter pointed 
out in a memorandum for the Fund for the Republic in 1955, "A casual 
survey of the contents of some of the right-wing periodicals will show that the 
fear of modernity which inspired the fundamentalist crusades of the 1920s 
and the dislike of the polyglot life of the city, and of Jewish and Catholic 
immigrants, which inspired the Ku Klux Klan, is still alive among the 
extreme right." 

14 The rationalizations for the farm programs of the various administrations - 
which support farm prices and give the farmer money not to produce offer 
a fascinating example of the ideological moralizing of the right. For those 
reared on fundamentalist virtues, the idea of being paid not to produce 
creates considerable moral queasiness. Yet, given the overproduction in 
agriculture, the operation of a free market would serve only to wipe out 
thousands of fanners immediately. The function of the acreage restrictions 
is to adjust supply to demand, and farm-price supports provide an "income 
cushion" in order to ease the lot of the farmer. These programs, costing 
billions of dollars a year, are defended ideologically on the ground of pro- 
tecting private property. But the effort which has the same protective 
function to help workers through unemployment compensation is attacked 
as weakening moral fiber, and the suggestion that technological changes 
which disrupt the established lives of thousands be retarded is attacked as 
impeding progress. 

15 On the decline of inherited position and nepotism in the large corporation, 
see Mabel M. Newcomer, The Big Business Executive (New York, Columbia 
University Press, 1955). 

16 The National Education Program, at Harding College in Arkansas, which 
prepares films on communism and materials on free enterprise, has been 
used extensively by General Electric, U. S. Steel, Olin Mathieson Chemical, 
Monsanto Chemical, Swift & Co., and others. Boeing Aviation and the Rich- 
field Oil Company have sponsored many of the anti-Communism seminars 
on the West Coast. The Jones & Laughlin Steel Company has a widespread 
propaganda program for its employees. One of the most active firms is the 

The Dispossessed 1962 37 

Allen Bradley Company, of Milwaukee, which makes machine tools and 
electrical equipment. The Allen Bradley Company advertises in the John 
Birch Society magazine and reprinted Dr. Fred Schwarz's testimony before 
the House Un-American Activities Committee, a reprint which Schwarz 
claims had "wider distribution than any other government document in the 
history of the United States, with the possible exception of the Bill of Rights, 
the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." The Allen Bradley 
Company, which constantly extols the virtue of free enterprise, was one of 
the companies convicted of collusive bidding and illegal price-rigging. 

17 One of the factors that has acted to safeguard democracy in England and 
the United States is that both countries have never had any permanently large 
standing armies. The insularity of England made it place its protection in the 
Navy, whose forces were always far from shore, and the continental isola- 
tion of the United States made it unnecessary to build up any permanent 
military force. Where large armies have existed, the military, because it has 
represented an organized bloc whose control over the means of violence 
could be decisive, has almost invariably been pulled into politics. Thus the 
German Army in one crucial situation, in 1920, defended the Weimar 
Republic (against the Putschists of the right), but in a second crucial instance, 
in 1932 (the machinations of von Schleicher), contributed to its downfall. 
In Spain in 1936, in France in 1960, and more recently in Argentina, Turkey, 
Korea, Pakistan, Burma, and so on, the armed forces have been the decisive 
political element in the society. 

18 "The Military Intellectuals," Times Literary Supplement (London), Au- 
gust 25, 1961. 

w Morris Janowitz, The Professional Soldier (The Free Press, 1960), p. 429. 
2 Major General Roscoe C. Wilson, the former chief of the Air War College, 
testified that he once "felt compelled to go to the Director of Intelligence to 
express my concern over what I felt was a pattern of action that was simply 
not helpful to the national defense." The items cited in this pattern included 
Oppenheimer's interest in the "internationalizing of atomic energy," his 
insistence that it was technically premature to build nuclear-powered aircraft, 
and his conservatism on thermonuclear weapons. (United States Atomic 
Energy Commission, "In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer," Transcript 
of Hearings Before the Personnel Security Board, Government Printing Office 
[Washington, 1954], pp. 684-85.) 

The decision of the special A.E.C. panel was a curious one. Its chairman, 
Gordon Gray, president of the University of North Carolina, noted that if 
the board could use common sense rather than apply the stringent rules of 
the security regulations, its decision might have been different. But in the 
light of those regulations, while Oppenheimer's "loyalty" was affirmed, he had 
to be declared a security risk. The full A.E.C. board, by a four-to-one vote, 
rendered an even harsher judgment in forbidding Oppenheimer access to all 
classified material. See also, Robert Gilpin, American Scientists and Nuclear 
Policy (Princeton University Press, 1962), Chap. IV, for a discussion of 
Project Vista and Project Lincoln. 

21 Much of the newer economic thinking is reflected in the study by Charles 
Hitch and Roland N. McKean, The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age 
(Harvard University Press, 1961), completed at Rand before Hitch was 
appointed comptroller in the Pentagon. 

22 See "The Education of a Defense Secretary," by Charles J. V. Murphy, 
Fortune, May, 1962. Murphy, the military correspondent of Fortune, has 
consistently reflected the views of the military establishment in its battles 

38 The Radical Right 

with the scientists and other critics of the military. Murphy's comprehensive 
story of the reorganization, of the Pentagon is the first account of the "hidden" 
conflicts between the traditional services and McNamara that has resulted from 
the introduction of long-range programming in the Defense Department. As 
Murphy writes, "So swiftly did he move that the high brass again and again 
found itself confronted by a McNamara decision while it was still mulling over 
his initial direction for action. . . . 

"In two months McNamara produced blueprints for the Kennedy line of 
action for both the strategic and the conventional forces. The new require- 
ments in the first area was drawn up by a task force under a former Rand 
economist, Charles J. Hitch, the Defense Department comptroller. Those 
for the limited-war forces were developed by another task force under Paul H. 
Nitze, a former investment banker and State Department planner who was 
and remains the Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security 

"The job was pretty much over and done before the military had more 
than grasped that something unusual was going on. By tradition, the military 
services had generated their own requirements. It was they who proposed, 
the civilians who disposed. Under McNamara, however, the system was 
suddenly turned upside down. Now it was McNamara and his lay strategists 
who were saying what weapons and what forces in what numbers were needed; 
the service Chiefs found themselves in the strange position of reviewing 
weapon systems and force structures they had never formally considered." 

23 In the elite structure of British politics, control is not in the constituencies 
(or, as here, among the hundreds of local political bosses who have to be 
dealt into the game), but in the small parliamentary caucuses, which have 
a legal as well as historic independence from mass party control. The British 
elite, wedded to a "politics of civility," tends to dampen any extremism 
within the top political structure, while the control system keeps the masses 
outside and makes it difficult for them to be mobilized for direct pressure 
on the government. 

24 "Letter from Washington," The New Yorker, February 24, 1962. 


Interpretations of 
American Politics 


THIS BOOK presents a series of novel essays on some recent 
political history, notably an examination of the "new American 
right" which had concentrated for a time around the leadership of 
Senator McCarthy, and which continues today in large, if inchoate, 
form. This is not, however, a book about Senator McCarthy, al- 
though two of the essays, by Talcott Parsons and S. M. Lipset, offer 
some fresh insights into the flash-fire spread of McCarthyism. Mc- 
Carthyism, or McCarthywasm, as one wit put it, may be a passing 
phenomenon. This book is concerned not with these transiencies, but 
with the deeper-running social currents of a turbulent mid-century 

This is a turbulence born not of depression, but of prosperity. 
Contrary to the somewhat simple notion that prosperity dissolves all 
social problems, we see that prosperity brings in its wake new social 
groups, new social strains and new social anxieties. Conventional 
political analysis, drawn largely from eighteenth- and nineteenth- 
century American experience, cannot fathom these new social anx- 
ieties not explain their political consequences. 

This book, by establishing a new framework, attempts to provide 
an understanding of these new social problems. This framework is 
derived from an analysis of the exhaustion of liberal and left-wing 
political ideology, and by an examination of the new, prosperity- 
created "status-groups" which, in their drive for recognition and 
respectability, have sought to impose older conformities on the Amer- 
ican body politic. This framework, drawn from some of the more 
recent thought in sociology and social psychology, represents a new 

40 The Radical Right 

and original contribution which, we feel, extends the range of con- 
ventional political analysis. To an extent, this is a "thesis book." It 
does not present a "total" view of politics nor does it supplant the 
older categories of political analysis, but it does add a new and 
necessary dimension to the analysis of American society today, 
Equally important, and of more immediate relevance perhaps, the 
application of these concepts may allow us not only to understand 
some puzzling aspects of the last decade, but also to illuminate 
the sub-rosa political forces of 1956 and beyond. 

Politics in the United States has been looked at, roughly, from 
three standpoints: the role of the electoral structure, of democratic 
tradition, and of interest groups, sectional or class. 

Perhaps the most decisive fact about politics in the United States 
is the two-party system. Each party is like some huge bazaar, 
with hundreds of hucksters clamoring for attention. But while life 
within the bazaars flows freely and licenses are easy to obtain, 
all trading has to be conducted within the tents; the ones who hawk 
their wares outside are doomed to few sales. This fact gains meaning 
when we consider one of the striking facts about American life: 
America has thrown up countless social movements, but few political 
parties; in contradiction to European political life, few of the social 
movements have been able to transform themselves into political 
parties* Here is one source of apparent flux that yet makes for sta- 
bility in American life. 

"It is natural for the ordinary American," wrote Gunnar Myrdal, 
"when he sees something that is wrong to feel not only that there 
should be a law against it, but also that an organization should be 
formed to combat it," and, we might add, to change it. American 
reform groups have ranged from Esperantists to vegetarians, from 
silver-money advocates to conservationists, from trust-busters to 
Socialists of fifty-seven varieties. These groups, intense and ideolog- 
ically single-minded, have formed numerous third parties the 
Greenback Party, Anti-Monopoly Party, Equal Rights Party, Prohi- 
bition Party, Socialist Labor Party, Union Labor Party, Farmer- 
Labor Party, Socialist Party. Yet none succeeded. 

The wheat farmers of the north central plains have a homogeneity 
of cultural outlook and a common set of economic problems which 
national boundary lines cannot bisect. Yet in Canada, the wheat 
farmers formed a Social Credit Party in Alberta and a Cooperative 

Interpretations of American Politics 7955 41 

Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan, while their brothers in 
North Dakota could only, at best, form a Non-Partisan League 
within the Republican Party in order to press their interests. 1 

These factors of rigid electoral structure have set definite limits 
on the role of protest movements, left and right, in American life. 
("Let me make the deals, and I care not who makes the ideals," an 
American politician has said.) They account in significant measure 
for the failure of the Lemke-Coughlin movement in 1936, and the 
Wallace-Progressive Party in 1948. They account for the new basic 
alliance between the unions and the Democratic Party, Whatever 
lingering hopes some trade unionists may have held for a labor party 
in the United States were dispelled by Walter Reuther at the C.LO. 
convention in November 1954 when, in answering transport leaders 
such as Mike Quill, he pointed out that a third party was impossible 
within the nature of the United States electoral system. This is a les- 
son that every social movement has learned. And any social move- 
ment which hopes to effect or resist social change in the United 
States is forced now to operate within one or the other of the two 
parties. This factor alone will place an enormous strain on these 
parties in the next ten years. 

The democratic tradition, the second of the interpretive categories, 
has played an important role in shaping American political forms. 
The distinctive aspect of the political tradition in the United States is 
that politics is the arena of the hoi polloi. Here the "common man" 
becomes the source of ultimate appeal if not authority. This was not 
so at the beginning. The "founding fathers," with the Roman repub- 
lic, let alone the state of affairs under the Articles of Confederation, 
in mind, feared the "democratic excesses" which the poor and prop- 
ertyless classes could wreak against those with property. Whatever 
the subsequent inadequacies of the economic interpretation of history 
in a complex society, it is clear that in 1787 self-consciousness of 
property, and a desire to limit the electoral role of the people, 
were uppermost in the minds of the "four groups of personality 
interests which had been adversely affected under the Articles of 
Confederation : money, public securities, manufactures, and trade and 
shipping." 2 This was reflected in the precautions written into the 
Constitution: a non-popular Senate, selected by the States; an ap- 
pointive judiciary holding office for life, and a President elected 
through the indirect and cumbersome means of an electoral college. 

But these barriers soon broke down. The victory of the Jefferso- 

42 The Radical Right 

mans was the first step in the establishment of a "populist" character 
for the American democracy. The Federalists, seeing the success of 
the Jeffersonian methods, realized the necessity of imitating those 
"popular, convivial and charitable techniques/' As early as 1802, 
Hamilton, in a letter to Bayard, outlined a plan for a "Christian 
Constitutional Society," which would appeal to the masses "through 
a development of a 'cult' of Washington and benevolent activities." 3 
A Washington Benevolent Society was formed in 1808, but it was 
too late, the Federalists had already lost. Thirty years later their 
spiritual descendants, the Whigs, beat the Democrats at their own 
game. Casting aside Henry Clay, whose "Hamiltonian" views were 
too well-established, the Whigs nominated General William Henry 
Harrison, the hero of the battle of Tippecanoe, against Andrew 
Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren. 

"If General Harrison is taken up as a candidate," said Nicholas 
Biddle, the former head of the National Bank, in some direction to 
party managers (which might not have echoed so strangely in 1952), 
"it will be on account of the past. . . . Let him say not one single 
word about his principles, or his creed let him say nothing prom- 
ise nothing. Let no Committee, no convention no town meeting 
ever extract from him a single word about what he thinks or will do 
hereafter. Let the use of pen and ink be wholly forbidden." 4 

The "cider election" of 1840 was a turning-point in American 
political life. Harrison traveled from place to place in a large wagon 
with a log cabin on top, and a barrel of hard cider on tap for the 
crowds. Daniel Webster, with the fustian of the demagogue, ex- 
pressed deep regret that he had not been born in a log cabin, al- 
though his elder siblings had begun their lives in a humble abode. 
Whig orators berated Van Buren for living in a lordly manner, ac- 
cusing him of putting cologne on his whiskers, eating from gold 
plate, and of being "laced up in corsets such as women in town 
wear and if possible tighter than the best of them." 
"** The lesson was clear. Politics as a skill in manipulating masses be- 
came the established feature of political life, and the politician, some- 
times a front-man for the moneyed interests, but sometimes the 
manipulator in his own right, came to the fore. Increasingly, the 
upper classes withdrew from direct participation in politics. The law- 
yer, the journalist, the drifter, finding politics an open ladder of 
social mobility, came bounding up from the lower middle classes. 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 43 

The tradition of equality had been established. The politician had to 
speak to "the people" and in democratic terms. 

If the politician spoke to the people, he acted for "interests." The 
awareness of the interest-group basis of politics, the third of the 
categories, goes far back to the early days of the republic. Madison, 
in the oft-quoted Number Ten of the Federalist Papers, had written, 
"the most common and durable source of factions has been the 
various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and 
those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests 
in society." James Harrington's maxim that "power always follows 
property," "I believe to be as infallible a maxim in politics, as 
that action and reaction are equal in mechanics," said John Adams, 
the outstanding conservative of the time. 5 The threat to property 
on the part of the small farmer and the landless formed the basis of 
the first disquiet in American politics. The Shaysites in Massachusetts 
and other insurgents, General Henry Knox complained to George 
Washington, "believe that the property of the United States has 
been protected from the confiscations of Britain by the joint exertions 
of all." Madison, looking to 'the future, anticipated that "a great 
majority of the people will not only be without land, but any other 
sort of property." When this has occurred, he predicted, the property- 
less masses will "either combine under the influence of their common 
situation; in which case the rights of property and the public liberty 
will not be secure in their hands; or what is more probable," he 
continued, with the lessons of the Roman demagogues in mind, "they 
will become tools of opulence and ambition, in which case, there 
will be equal danger on the other side." 6 

The early factional struggles in American political life, rustic in 
form because of the agrarian weight of the population, soon became 
sectional. This was inevitable since the different regions developed 
different interests: the rice, tobacco and cotton of the South; the fish- 
ing, lumber, commerce of New England. National parties came into 
being when the Federalists succeeded at first in combining the large 
planters of the upper and lower South with the commercial interests 
of the North Atlantic region, and when Jefferson challenged this 
combination by uniting the grain growers and other small farmers 
both North and South into a rival party. Since then, the national 
parties have been strange alliances of heterogeneous sectional 
groups: Midwest farmers with the populist, Democratic and Re- 
publican parties; the urban immigrant North with the backward, 

44 The Radical Right 

nativist South. Ethnic and functional groups have, often by historic 
accident, flowed into one of the two parties: the Negroes, because of 
the Civil War, for sixty years or so voted Republican; the Irish, 
because of their original relation to Tammany Hall, became Demo- 
crats; the Germans, settling in the Midwest, became Republican; 
the urban Italians, in reaction to their exclusion by the Irish, be- 
came Republican. 

Within the sectionalism of American political life, arose the nar- 
rower, more flexible tactic of the pressure group standing outside the 
particular party, committed to neither, giving support or winning sup- 
port on the basis of allegiance to the single issue alone. One of the 
first skillful innovators of this tactic was George Henry Evans, a 
confrere of Robert Owen and a leading figure for a time in the re- 
form politics of the 1830s and '40s. Evans had been one of the 
leaders of the Workinginen's Party in 1829, a New York party that 
began with moderate success but which faded when ideological dif- 
ferences inflamed a latent factionalism, and when the Democrats 
"stole their thunder" by adopting some of their immediate demands. 
Evans who believed that free land would solve the class tensions 
and plight of the propertyless workers, organized an Agrarian 
League in the 1840s. His experience had taught him that a minority 
party could not win by its own votes and 'that politicians, interested 
primarily in "deals not ideals," would endorse any measure advo- 
cated by a group that could hold the balance of power. Evans 
"therefore asked all candidates to support his 'sliding measures.' In 
exchange for such a pledge, the candidate would receive the votes 
of the workingmen." 7 While the Agrarian League itself met with 
middling success, its tactics paid off in the later passage of the 
Homestead acts. 

In 1933, with the arrival of the New Deal, the feeling arose that 
a new era was emerging. In a widely-quoted book, Professor Arthur 
N. Holcombe of Harvard wrote: "The old party politics is visibly 
passing away. The character of the new party politics will be deter- 
mined chiefly by the interests and attitudes of the urban popula- 
tion. . . . There will be less sectional politics and more class poli- 
tics. 5 ' 8 The emergence of "functional" groups, particularly labor, and 
the growing assertion of ethnic groups, seemed to underscore the 
shift. The fact that Franklin Roosevelt was able to weave together 
these groups, some of whom like the farmers had been allied with 
the G.O.P., seemed to indicate that some historic realignments were 

Interpretations oj American Politics 1955 45 

taking place. Some have. The trade union movement, politically 
articulate for the first time, is outspokenly Democratic; but the 
working-class vote has usually been Democratic. Ethnic groups which 
have played a role in politics have, by and large, retained their 
loyalty to the Democratic Party; but there are many indications that, 
as a result of rising prosperity and higher social status, significant 
chunks of these nationality and minority groups are beginning to 
shift their allegiance. 9 The farmers, despite the enormous supports 
voted by the New Deal, have returned to the Republican fold. 

While sectional politics have somewhat diminished, class politics 
have not jelled. Elements of both are reflected in the rise of pressure 
groups and the lobbies. The most spectacular use of the seesaw pres^ 
sure group tactic was the Anti-Saloon League, which, starting in 
1893, was able in two and a half decades to push through a Con- 
stitutional amendment prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor 
in the United States. Since then, the pressure group device has been 
adopted by thousands of organizations, whether it be for tariff re- 
form, opposition to Federal medical programs, or political aid to the 
state of Israel. In 1949, the Department of Commerce estimated 
that there were 4000 national trade, professional, civic and other 
associations. Including local and branch chapters there were prob- 
ably 16,000 businessmen's organizations, 70,000 local labor unions, 
100,000 women's clubs and 15,000 civic groups carrying on some 
political education. The enormous multiplication of such groups 
obviously cancels out many of the threats made to candidates 
defying one or the other interests. 10 But it makes possible, too, 
a dextrous art of logrolling, which itself makes it possible for small 
interest to exert great political leverage. Thus, when peanuts were 
eliminated from a farm subsidy program in 1955, over one hundred 
Southern congressmen held up a crop support bill until the subsidy 
was restored. (Although Georgia peanuts account for less than one 
half of one per cent of farm income, subsidizing this crop has cost 
the U.S. 100 million dollars in the past decade.) 

The multiplication of interests and the fractioning of groups make 
it difficult to locate the sources of power in the United States. 11 This 
political fractioning, occurring simultaneously with the break-up of 
old property forms and the rise of new managerial groups to power 
within business enterprises, spells the break-up, too, of older ruling 
classes in the United States. A ruling class may be defined as a 
power-holding group that has both an established community of in- 

46 The Radical Right 

terest and continuity of interest. One can be a member of the 
"upper class" (i.e. have greater privilege and wealth and be able 
to transmit that wealth) without being a member of the ruling group. 
The modern ruling group is a coalition whose modes of continuity, 
other than the political route as such, are still ill-defined. 12 More 
than ever, government in the United States has become in John 
Chamberlain's early phrase, "the broker state." To say this is a 
broker state, however, does not mean that all interests have equal 
power. This is a business society. But within the general acceptance 
of corporate capitalism, modified by union power and checked by 
government control, the deals and interest-group trading proceed. 

Granting the usefulness of these frames of political analysis the 
role of electoral structure in limiting social movements and social 
clashes; the tradition of popular appeal; and the force of interest- 
groups in shaping and modifying legislative policy in understanding 
"traditional" political problems, they leave us somewhat ill-equipped 
to understand the issues which have dominated political dispute in 
the last decade. These categories do not help us understand the 
Communist issue, the forces behind the new nationalism of say 
Bricker and Knowland, and the momentary range of support and 
the intense emotional heat generated by Senator McCarthy. 
'^ For Europeans, particularly, the Communist issue must be a puz- 
zle. After all, there are no mass Communist parties in the U.S. such 
as one finds in France and Italy; the Communist Party in the U.S. 
never, at any single moment, had more than 100,000 members. In 
the last five years, when the Communist issue appeared on the 
national scene, the Communists had already lost considerable polit- 
ical influence and were on the decline the Communists had been 
expelled from C.I.O.; 13 the Progressive Party, repudiated by Henry 
Wallace, had fizzled; the Communists were losing strength in the 
intellectual community. 

It is true that liberals have tended to play down the issue. 14 And 
some rational basis for its existence was present. There was the sur- 
prise of the aggression in Korea and the emotional reaction against 
the Chinese and Russian Communists which carried over to domestic 
Communists. The disclosures, particularly by Whittaker Chambers, 
of the infiltration of Communists into high posts in government and 
the existence of espionage rings, produced a tremendous shock in a 
nation which hitherto had been unaware of such machinations. Peo- 
ple began realizing, too, that numbers alone were no criteria of 

Interpretations of American Politics 7955 47 

Communist strength; in fact, thinking of Communist influence on the 
basis of statistical calculation itself betrayed an ignorance of Com- 
munist methods; in the United States the Communists by operating 
among intellectual groups and opinion leaders have had an influence 
far out of proportion to their actual numbers. And, finally, the 
revelations in the Canadian spy investigations, in the Allan Nunn 
May trial in Britain and in the Rosenberg case that the Soviets had 
stolen United States atom secrets, themselves added fuel to the emo- 
tional heat against the Communists. 

When all of this is said, it still fails to account for the extensive 
damage to the democratic fabric that McCarthy and others were 
able to cause on the Communist issue and for the reckless methods 
disproportionate to the problem: the loyalty oaths on the campus, 
the compulsive Americanism which saw threats to the country in the 
wording of a Girl Scout handbook, the violent clubbing of the Voice 
of America (which under the ideological leadership of such anti- 
Communists as Foy Kohler and Bertram Wolfe had conducted in- 
telligent propaganda in Europe), the wild headlines and the sense- 
less damaging of the Signal Corps radar research program at Fort 
Monmouth in short the suspicion and the miasma of fear that 
played so large a role in American politics. Nor does it explain the 
unchallenged position held so long by Senator McCarthy. 

McCarthy himself must be a puzzle to conventional political 
analysis. Calling him a demagogue explains little; the relevant ques- 
tions are, to whom was he a demagogue, and about what. McCarthy's 
targets were indeed strange. Huey Long, the last major demagogue, 
had vaguely attacked the rich and sought to "share the wealth." 
McCarthy's targets were intellectuals, Harvard, Anglophiles, inter- 
nationalists, the Army. 

His targets and his language do, indeed, provide important clues 
to the "radical right" that supported him, and the reasons for that 
support. These groups constituted a strange melange: a thin stratum 
of soured patricians like Archibald Roosevelt, the last surviving son 
of Teddy Roosevelt, whose emotional stake lay in a vanishing image 
of a muscular America defying a decadent Europe; the "new rich" 
the automobile dealers, real estate manipulators, oil wildcatters 
who needed the psychological assurance that they, like their fore- 
bears, had earned their own wealth, rather than accumulated it 
through government aid, and who feared that "taxes" would rob 
them of that wealth; the rising middle-class strata of the ethnic 

48 The Radical Right 

groups, the Irish and the Germans, who sought to prove their Ameri- 
canism, the Germans particularly because of the implied taint of dis- 
loyalty during World War II; and finally, unique in American cul- 
tural history, a small group of intellectuals, many of them cankered 
ex-Communists, who, pivoting on McCarthy, opened up an at- 
tack on liberalism in general. 

This strange coalition, bearing the "sword of the Lord and 
Gideon," cannot be explained in conventional political terms. These 
essays do provide some frame, particularly one to explain the "new 
rich" and the "rising ethnic" groups. One key concept is the idea 
of "status politics" advanced by Richard Hofstadter, His central 
idea is that groups that are upwardly mobile (i.e. that are advancing 
in wealth and social position), are often as anxious and as politically 
febrile as groups that have become declasse. Many observers have 
noted that groups which have lost their social position seek more 
violently than ever to impose on all groups the older values of 
a society which they once bore. Hofstadter demonstrates that groups 
on the rise may insist on a similar conformity in order to establish 
themselves. This rise takes place in periods of prosperity, when class 
or economic interest group conflicts have lost much of their force. 15 
The new, patriotic issues proposed by the status groups are amor- 
phous and ideological. This theme is elaborated in the essay by 
Riesman and Glazer, with particular reference to the new rich. But 
these groups are able to assert themselves, 'the two sociologists 
point out, largely because of the exhaustion of liberal ideology a 
collapse not from defeat but from "victory." The essay by Peter 
Viereck traces some of the historical roots of the peculiar rhetoric of 
the right, showing the sources of the anti-intellectualism and Anglo- 
phobia in the egalitarian populism of the last century. Professor 
Parsons, discussing the nature of social change in the United States, 
demonstrates how the resultant social strains foster the emergence of 
the new right. Glazer and Lipset, analyzing the recent study by Pro- 
fessor Stouffer on "Communism, Conformity and Civil Liberties," 
deal with limitations of "survey methods" in elucidating social at- 
titudes. The long concluding essay by Professor Lipset provides a 
detailed analysis of the social groups identified with the new right 
and assesses their strength. 

These essays were not written for this volume. All but the re- 
views of the Stouffer book appeared about the same time, and quite 
independently. And yet they showed a remarkable convergence in 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 49 

point of view. This convergence itself indicates that some of the 
recent concepts of sociology and social psychology the role of 
status groups as a major entity in American life and status resent- 
ments as a real force in politics were being applied fruitfully to 
political analysis. 

Whether the groups analyzed in this volume form a political 
force depends upon many factors. Certainly McCarthy himself is, 
at the moment, at the nadir. By the logic of his own political position, 
and by the nature of his personality, he had to go to an extreme. 
And he ended, finally, by challenging Eisenhower. It was McCarthy's 
great gamble. And he lost, for the challenge to a Republican Pres- 
ident by a Republican minority could only have split the party. 
Faced with this threat, the party rallied behind Eisenhower, and 
McCarthy himself was isolated. In this respect, the events prove the 
soundness of the thesis of Walter Lippmann and the Alsops in 1952 
that only a Republican President could provide the necessary con- 
tinuity of foreign and domestic policy initiated and maintained by 
the Fair Deal A Democratic President would only have polarized 
the parties, and given the extreme Republican wing the license to 
lead the attack; the administration of a moderate Republican could 
act as a damper on the extreme right. 

The lessening of international tensions may confirm McCarthy's 
defeat, just as a flare-up of war in Asia, particularly Chinese Com- 
munist action over Formosa, might give him a platform to come 
back. Yet McCarthy has to be understood in relation to the people 
behind him and the changed political temper which these groups 
have brought. He was the catalyst, not the explosive force. These 
forces still remain. 

The essays in this volume identify and deal with the emergence 
of the "status groups." Their emergence raises some further ques- 
tions regarding the political theory and political temper of American 

Throughout our history, Americans have had an extraordinary 
talent for compromise in politics and extremism in morality. The g 
most shameless political deals (and "steals") have been rationalized 
as, expedient and realistically necessary; yet in no other country 
were there such spectacular attempts to curb human appetites and 
brand them a^ illicit and nowhere else such glaring failures. From 
the start America was at one and the same time the frontier com- 

50 The Radical Right 

munity where "everything goes," and the fair country of the re- 
strictive Blue Laws (to the extent, for example, of barring theatrical 
performances on Sunday). At the turn of the century the cleavage 
developed between the big city and the small town conscience: crime 
as a growing business was fed by the revenues from prostitution, 
liquor and gambling that a cynical urban society encouraged, and 
which a middle-class Protestant ethos sought to suppress with a 
ferocity unmatched in any other civilized country. Even in prim and 
proper Anglican England, prostitution is a commonplace of Piccadilly 
night life, and gambling one of the largest and most popular in- 
dustries. But in America, the enforcement of public morals has been 
a continuing feature of our history. 

The sources of this moralism are varied. This has been a middle- 
class culture, and there may be considerable truth to the generaliza- 
tion of Svend Ranulf that moral indignation is a peculiar fact of 
middle-class psychology and represents a disguised form of re- 
pressed envy. 16 One does not find moral indignation a feature of the 
temper of aristocratic cultures. Moralism and moral indignation are 
characteristic of religions that have largely abandoned other-worldly 
preoccupations and have concentrated on this-worldly concerns. Re- 
ligions, like Catholicism, which are focused on heaven are often 
quite tolerant of man's foibles, weaknesses, and cruelties on earth; 
theft, after all, is only a venial sin, while pride bears the stain of 
venality. This is a country, and Protestantism a religion, in which 
piety has given way to moralism, and theology to ethics. Becoming 
respectable represents "moral" advancement, and regulating con- 
duct, i.e. being "moral" about it, is a great concern of the Protestant 
churches in America. 

This moralism, itself not unique to America, is linked to an evan- 
gelicalism that was largely unique. There has long been a legend, 
fostered for the most part by literary people, and compounded by 
sociologists, that America's has been a "puritan" culture. For the 
sociologists this has arisen out of a mistaken identification of the 
Protestant ethic with puritan code. The literary critics have been 
seduced by the myth of New England, and the literary revolt initiated 
by Van Wyck Brooks which sought to break the hold of puritanism 
in literature. While puritanism, and the "New England mind," have 
indeed played a large intellectual role in American life, in the habits 
and mores of the masses of people, the peculiar evangelicalism of 
Methodism and Baptism, with its high emotionalism, its fervor, en- 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 51 

thusiasm and excitement, its revivalism, its excesses of sinning and 
of high-voltage confessing, has played a much more important role 
in coloring the moral temper of America. Baptism and Methodism 
have been the American religious creed because they were the rustic 
and frontier religions. In his page on "Why Americans Manifest a 
Sort of Fanatical Spiritualism/ 5 de Tocqueville observes: "In all 
states of the Union, but especially in the half-peopled country of the 
Far West, itinerant preachers may be met with who hawk about 
the word of God from place to place. Whole families, old men, 
women and children, cross rough passes and untrodden wilds, com- 
ing from a great distance, to join a camp-meeting, where, in listening 
to these discourses, they totally forget for several days and nights 
the cares of business and even the most urgent wants of the body." 17 

The Baptist and Methodist churches grew while the more "re- 
spectable" Protestant bodies remained static, precisely because their 
preachers went on with the advancing frontier and reflected its spirit. 
"In the camp meeting and in the political gathering logical discourse 
was of no avail, while the 'language of excitement 9 called forth an 
enthusiastic response," observed H. Richard Niebuhr. 18 

This revivalist spirit was egalitarian and anti-intellectual. It shook 
off the vestments and the formal liturgies and preached instead the 
gospel and roaring hymn. This evangelicalism was reflected in the 
moralism of a William Jennings Bryan, a religious as well as an 
economic champion of the West, and in the urban revivalism of a 
Dwight Moody and the Y.M.C.A. movement that grew out of his 
gospel fervor. 19 In their espousal of social reform, the evangelical 
churqhes reflected the peculiar influence of moralism. They were the 
supreme champions of prohibition legislation and Sabbath observ- 
ance. Reform, in their terms, meant, not as in the New Deal, a belief 
in welfare legislation, but the redemption of those who had fallen 
prey to sin and sin meant drink, loose women and gambling. 

This moralism, so characteristic of American temper, had a pecul- 
iar schizoid character: it would be imposed with vehemence in areas 
of culture and conduct in the censorship of books, the attacks on 
"immoral art/ 5 etc., and in the realm of private habits; yet it was 
heard only sporadically regarding the depredations of business or 
the corruption of politics. And yet, this has had its positive side. To 
the extent that moral indignation apart from its rhetorical use in 
political campaigns played so small a role in the actual political 
arena, the United States has been able to escape the intense ideolog- 

52 The Radical Right 

ical fanaticism the conflicts of clericalism and class which has 
been so characteristic of Europe. 

The singular fact about the Communist problem is that an ideolog- 
ical issue was raised in American political life, with a compulsive 
moral fervor only possible because of the equation of Communism 
with sin. A peculiar change, in fact, seems to be coming over Ameri- 
can life. While we are becoming more relaxed in the area of tradi- 
tional morals (viz., the Supreme Court ruling against censorship in 
the case of the movie, The Miracle), we are becoming moralistic 
and extreme in politics. The fact that Senator McCarthy could seek 
to pin a Communist label on the Democratic Party, and tie it with a 
tag of "treason" and be abetted for a time by Attorney General 
Brownell and the Republican Party is a reflection of a new political 
temper in America. 

The tendency to convert politics into "moral" issues is reinforced 
by a second fact, the activities of the McCarthyite intellectuals 
James Burnham, William Schlamm, Max Eastman, and their 
minor epigoni. The rise of intellectual apologists for a reactionary 
right is, too, a new phase in American life. The quixotic fact is that 
many of these men, ex-Communists, repudiated at first not the 
Utopian vision of Communism, but its methods. In the thirties, the 
crucial intellectual fight was to emphasize, against the liberal pid~ 
dlers who sought to excuse the harshness of Stalinism by reference 
to the historic backwardness of Russia, or the grandeur of the Soviet 
dream, that in social action there is an inextricable relation between 
"ends and means," and that consistently amoral means could only 
warp and hideously distort an end. Yet these men have forgotten this 
basic point in their defense of McCarthy. Schlamm, the author of a 
fine book about Stalinism, Die Dlktatur der Luge (The Dictator- 
ship of the Lie), applauds McCarthy as a man who is seriously in- 
terested in ideas. John T. Fiynn, the old muckraker, denies Mc- 
Carthy has ever made use of the lie. Max Eastman, slightly critical 
at times, worries most not about McCarthy but that the liberals by 
attacking McCarthy might be playing "the Communist game"; as if 
all politics were only two-sided, in this case McCarthy or the Com- 

How explain this reversal? Motivations are difficult to plumb. 
Some of these men, as George Orwell once pointed out in a devastat- 
ing analysis of James Burnham, 20 slavishly worship power images. 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 53 

The Freeman, the old-maidish house organ of the intellectual right, 
coyly applauded McCarthy as a tough hombre. 

Yet one significant fact emerges from this bile: the hatred of the 
ex-Communist is not so much of the Communist, but of the "liberals," 
and the root of the problem goes back to the political situation of the 
thirties. In recent years there has been a growing myth that in the 
1930s the Communist dominated the cultural life of America, its 
publishing houses, Broadway, Hollywood, and the colleges. The 
myth is a seductive one which grows more plausible with revela- 
tion of different "name" personages who the public now discover 
were once open or covert fellow-travelers. Yet, as Granville Hicks 
points out, only one anti-Communist book is ever cited as having 
been suppressed in those years, while anti-Communist authors such 
as Eugene Lyons, Max Eastman, Freda Utley, Jan Valtin all pub- 
lished anti-Soviet books. 21 The Communists, in fact, felt that the 
shoe at times was on the other foot. "In the autumn of 1934," says 
Hicks, "I wrote an article for the New Masses in which I argued that 
the New York Times Book Review assigned almost all books on 
Russia to anti-Communists." The Nation book section under Mar- 
garet Marshall in those years was anti-Communist. The Communist 
cells in universities were small; at Harvard in 1938, at the height of 
the popular front, there were fourteen faculty Communists in all. 
While the Communists were able to enlist a sizable number of well- 
known names for their fronts, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, 
in issuing a statement in 1939 bracketing the Soviet and Nazi states 
as equally immoral, displayed a more distinguished roster of intel- 
lectuals than any statement issued by a Communist front. 

How explain these contrasting images of the Red Decade the 
anti-Communists who regarded the Communists as dominating the 
cultural life and the Communists who complained that they had little 
influence? The evidence, I would say, lies on Hicks' side. 22 The 
Communists did not dominate the cultural field, though they wielded 
an influence far out of proportion to their numbers. What is true, 
and here I feel Hicks missed the subtle edge of the problem, is that 
the official institutions of the cultural community because of the 
Spanish Civil War, the shock of Fascism, and the aura of New Deal 
reform did look at the Communist with some sympathy; they re- 
garded him as ultimately, philosophically wrong, but still as a re- 
spectable member of the community. But the vocal anti-Communists 
(many of them Trotskyites at the time), with their quarrelsome 

54 The Radical Right 

ways, their esoteric knowledge of Bolshevik history (most of the in- 
tellectuals were completely ignorant of the names of the Bolsheviks 
in the dock at the Moscow trials, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, 
Piatakov, Sokolnikov, Rakovsky) seemed extreme and bizarre 
and were regarded with suspicion. The anti-Stalinists, by raising 
"extraneous" issues of a "sectarian" nature, were "sabotaging" the 
fight against Fascism. Hence, in the thirties, one found the Com- 
munist possessing a place in the intellectual world, while the anti- 
Communists were isolated and thwarted. 

Here, in a sense, is the source of the present-day resentment 
against "the liberals." If one looks for formal or ideological definition 
"the liberal" is difficult to pin down. To a McCarthyite, "the liberals" 
dominate the intellectual and publishing community and define 
the canons of respectability and acceptance. And once again the 
knot of ex-Communists, now, as in the thirties, finds itself outside 
the pale. At stake is an attitude toward the Communists. The Free- 
man intellectuals want the Communists shriven or driven out of all 
areas of public or community life. The "liberal" says the effort is not 
worth the price, since there are few Communists, and the drive 
against them only encourages reactionaries to exact a conformity of 
opinion. By refusing to sanction these measures, the liberals find 
themselves under attack as "soft" 

In these strange times, new polar terms have been introduced into 
political discourse, but surely none so strange as the division into 
''hard" and "soft." Certainly in attitudes towards the rights of Com- 
munists, there are many gradations of opinion among genuine anti- 
Communists, as the debates in the Committee for Cultural Freedom 
have demonstrated. But for The Freeman intellectuals, there are only 
two attributes -hard or soft. Even the New York Post, whose editor, 
James A. Wechsler has fought Communists for years, and the Amer- 
icans for Democratic Action, whose initiating spirit was Reinhold 
Niebuhr, and whose co-chairman, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., was one 
of the early intellectual antagonists of the Communist, before McCar- 
thy ever spoke up on the subject, have been denounced as "soft." 

What does the term mean? Presumably one is "soft" if one insists 
that the danger from domestic Communists is small. But the "hard" 
anti-Communists insist that no distinction can be made between in- 
ternational and domestic Communism. This may be true regarding 
intent and methods, but is it equally so regarding their power; is the 
strength of domestic Communists as great as that of international 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 55 

Communism? It is said, that many liberals refused to recognize that 
Communists constituted a security problem or that planned infiltra- 
tion existed. This is rather a blanket charge, but even if largely true, 
the "hard" anti-Communists refuse to recognize the dimension of 
time. The question is: what is the degree of the present-day Com- 
munist infiltration? Pressed at Ms point some "hard" anti-Commu- 
nists admit that the number of actual Communists may be small, 
but that the real problem arises because the liberals, especially in the 
large Eastern universities, are predominantly "anti-anti Commu- 
nists." But what is the content of this "anti-anti Communism?" That 
it won't admit that the Communists constitute a present danger. And 
so we are back where we started. 

The polarization of images reflects itself in a strange set, too, of 
contrasting conceptions about power position. The liberals, particu- 
larly in the universities, have felt themselves subject to attack by 
powerful groups; the pro-McCarthy intellectuals see themselves as a 
persecuted group, discriminated against in the major opinion forming 
centers in the land. A personal incident is relevant here. A few years 
ago I encountered Robert Morris, the counsel then for the Jenner 
Committee on internal subversion. He complained of the "terrible 
press" Ms committee was receiving. What press, he was asked; after 
all, the great Hearst and Scripps-Howard and Gannett chains, as well 
as an overwhelming number of newspaper dailies, had enthusiasti- 
cally supported and reported the work of the Committee. I wasn't 
thinking of them, he replied. I was thinking of the New York Times, 
the Washington Post, lie St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

The paradoxical fact is that on traditional economic issues, these 
"liberal" papers are conservative. 23 All three supported Eisenhower^ 
Yet, traditional conservative issues no longer count in dividing "lib- 
erals" from "anti-Communists." The only issue is whether one is 
"hard" or "soft." And so, an amorphous, ideological issue, rather 
than an interest-group issue, has become a major dividing line in 
the political community. 

The "ideologizing" of politics gains reinforcement from a third", 
somewhat independent tendency in American life, the emergence of 
what may be called the "symbolic groups." These are the inchoate, 
often ill-coordinated entities, known generally, in capital letters, as 
"Labor," "Business," the "Fanners," et al The assumption is made 
that these entities have a coherent philosophy and a defined purpose 

56 The Radical Right 

and represent actual forces. But is this true in a society so multi- 
fractioned and interest-divided? 

The utilitarians, the first to give politics a calculus, and thus be- 
gin an experimental social science, made a distinction between a 
social decision (the common purpose) and the sum total of individ- 
ual self-interest decisions. Adam Smith assumed a natural harmony, 
if not identity, between the two. But Jeremy Bentham knew that such 
identity was artificial, although he felt that they could be reconciled 
by an intelligent legislator through "a well-regulated application of 
punishments." 24 The distinction between the self-interest and social 
decisions might be reworked in modern idiom as one between 
"market" and "ideological" decisions. The first represents a series 
of choices based on the rational self-interest of the individual or 
organization, with the aim of maximizing profit or the survival or 
enhancement of the organization. The second represents decisions, 
based on some purpose clothed in moral terms, in which the goal 
is deemed so important as to override when necessary the individual 
self-interest. 25 

In modern society, the clash between ideological and market de- 
cisions is often as intense within groups, as between groups. The 
"labor movement," for example, has strongly favored lower tariffs 
and broader international trade; yet the seamen's union has urged 
that U.S. government aid be shipped in American, not foreign bot- 
toms, while the textile unions have fought for quotas on foreign im- 
ports. Political-minded unionists, like Mike Quill in New York, 
have had to choose between a wage increase for their members 
against a rise in transit fares for the public at large. Interest rivalries 
are often more direct. The teamsters' unions have lobbied against 
the railroad unions and the coal miners against the oil workers. In 
every broad group these interest conflicts have taken place, within 
industry, farm, and every other functional group in the society. 

The tendency to convert interest groups into "symbolic groups" 
derives from varied sources. Much of it comes from "vulgar" Marxist 
thinking, with its image of a self-conscious, coordinated Business 
class (as in Jack London's image of "the oligarchs" in his The Iron 
Heel and the stereotypes of "Wall Street"). Some of this was taken 
over by the New Dealers with their image of "America's Sixty 
Families." But the biggest impetus has come from the changing na- 
ture of political decision-making and the mode of opiniorf formation 
in modern society. The fact that decision-making has been central- 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 57 

ized into the narrow cockpit of Washington, rather than the im- 
personal market, leads groups like the National Association of 
Manufacturers, the Farm Bureau, the A.F. of L., et al, to speak for 
"Business" for the "Farmers" for "Labor" At the same time, with 
the increased sensitivity to "public opinion," heightened by the intro- 
duction of the mass polling technique, the "citizen" (not tie specific- 
interest individual) is asked what "Business" or "Labor" or the 
"Farmer" should do. In effect, these groups are often forced to as- 
sume an identity and greater coherence beyond their normal intra- 
mural interest conflicts. A result again is that political debate moves 
from specific interest clashes, in which issues can be identified and 
possibly compromised, to ideologically-tinged conflicts which polarize 
the groups and divide the society. 

The essays in this book are primarily analytical. Yet they also 
point implicitly to a dangerous situation. The tendency to convert 
issues into ideologies, to invest them with moral color and high 
emotional charge, invites conflicts which can only damage a society. 
"A nation, divided irreconcilably on 'principle,* each party believing 
itself pure white and the other pitch black, cannot govern itself," 
wrote a younger Walter Lippmann. 

The saving glory of the United States is that politics has always 
been a pragmatic give-and-take rather than a series of wars-to-the- 
death. One ultimately comes to admire the "practical politics" of a 
Theodore Roosevelt and his scorn for the intransigents, like Godkin 
and Villard, who, refusing to yield to expediency, could never 
put through their reforms. Politics, as Edmund Wilson has described 
T.R.'s attitude, "is a matter of adapting oneself to all sorts of people 
and situations, a game in which one may score but only by accepting 
the rules and recognizing one's opponents, rather than a moral cru- 
sade in which one's stainless standard must mow the enemy 
down." 26 

Democratic politics is bargaining and consensus because the his- 
toric contribution of liberalism was to separate law from morality. 
The thought that the two should be separate often comes as a shockl 
Yet, in the older Catholic societies, ruled by the doctrine of "two 
swords," the state was the secular arm of the Church, and enforced 
in civil life the moral decrees of the Church. This was possible, in 
political theory, if not in practice, because the society was homo- 
geneous and everyone accepted the same religious values. But the 

58 The Radical Right 

religious wars that followed the Reformation proved that a plural 
society could only survive if it respected the principles of toleration. 
No group, be it Catholic or Protestant, could use the state to impose 
its moral conceptions on all the people. As the party of the Politiques 
put it, the "civil society must not perish for conscience's sake." 27 

These theoretical foundations of modern liberal society were com- 
pleted by Kant, who, separating legality and morality, defined the 
former as the "rules of the game" so to speak; law dealt with pro- 
cedural, not substantive issues. The latter were private matters of 
conscience with which the state could not interfere. 

This distinction has been at the root of the American democracy. 
For Madison, factions (or interests) were inevitable and the function 
of the republic was to protect the causes of faction, i.e., liberty 
and "the diversity in the faculties of men." As an interpreter of 
Madison writes, "free men, 'diverse' man, fallible, heterogeneous, 
heterodox, opinionated, quarrelsome man was the raw material of 
faction." 28 Since faction was inevitable, one could only deal with its 
effects, and not smother its causes. One curbed these effects by a 
federal form of government, by separation of powers, et al. But for 
Madison two answejj were central: first, an extensive republic, since 
a larger geographical area, and therefore a larger number of in- 
terests, would "lessen the insecurity of private rights," and second, 
the guarantee of representative government. 

Representative government, as John Stuart Mill has so cogently 
pointed out, means representation of all interests, "since the interest 
of the excluded is always in danger of being overlooked." And being 
overlooked, as Calhoun pointed out, constitutes a threat to civil 
order. But representative government is important for the deeper 
reason that by including all representative interests one can keep 
up "the antagonism of influences which is the only real security for 
continued progress." 29 It is the only way of providing the "con- 
current majorities" which, as Calhoun knew so well, were the solid 
basis for providing a check on the tyrannical "popular" majority. 
Only through representative government can one achieve consensus 
and conciliation. 

This is not to say that the Communist "interest" is a legitimate 
one, or that the Communist issue is irrelevant. As a conspiracy, 
rather than as a legitimate dissenting group, the Communist move- 
ment is a threat to any democratic society. And, within the defini- 
tion of "clear and present danger," a democratic society may have 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 59 

to act against that conspiracy. But these are questions to be handled 
by law. The tendency to use the Communist issue as a political club 
against other parties or groups (Le. to provide an ideological guilt 
by association), or the tendency to convert questions of law into 
issues of morality (and thus shift the source of sanctions from courts 
and legitimate authority to private individuals), imposes a great 
strain on democratic society. 

In almost 170 years since its founding American democracy has 
t>een rent only once by civil war. We have learned since then, not 
without strain, to include the "excluded interests/' the populist farm- 
ers and the organized workers. These economic interest groups 
take a legitimate place in the society and the ideological conflicts 
that once threatened to disrupt the society, particularly in the New 
Deal period, have been mitigated. The new divisions created by the 
status anxieties of new middle-class groups pose a new threat. The 
rancor of McCarthyism was one of its ugly excesses. Yet, the United 
States, so huge and complex that no single political boss or any 
single political grouping has ever been able to dominate it, may in 
time diminish these divisions. This is an open society, and these 
status anxieties are part of the price we pay for that openness. 

1 See also, S. M. Lipset, Agrarian Socialism (University of California Press), 
pp. 224 passim. 

2 Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (New 
York, 1935 edition), page 324. 

3 See Dixon Ryan Fox, The Decline of the Aristocracy in the Politics of 
New York. 

4 Cited in Charles A. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (1940 edition), 
Vol. 1, page 574. 

5 Cited in "American Individualism: Fact and Fiction," by A. T. Mason. 
American Political Science Review, March, 1952. Professor Mason's paper is 
the most concise account I know of the struggle between private economic 
power and popular political control in the United States. 

6 A. T. Mason, ibid., page 5. 

7 John R. Commons and associates, History of Labour in the United States, 
Vol. 1, page 531. 

8 A. N. Holcombe, The New Party Politics (New York, 1933), page 11. 

9 See Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics (New York, 1952); 
Louis Harris, Is There a Republican Majority? (New York, 1955). 

10 For an extended discussion of the role of interest groups in American 
politics, see David Truman, The Governmental Process (New York, 1951). 

11 See David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd (Anchor edition, pp. 246-59). 

12 The amorphousness of power in contemporary United States and its relation- 
ship to the break-up of "family capitalism," in the United States is developed 
by the writer in a paper on "The Ambiguities of the Mass Society and the 
Complexities of American Life," presented at a conference in Milan, Italy, 

60 The Radical Right 

in September, 1955 on "The Future of Freedom." [This paper is included in 
my essays, The End of Ideology (The Free Press, 1960, paperback edition, 
Collier Books, 1961).] . T . . 

is By 1952 they controlled unions with fewer than five percent of United 
States labor membership as against a peak control of unions with 20 percent 
of union membership in 1944. 

* 4 The contradictory stand of the Truman administration compounded these 
confusions and increased the alarums. On the one hand, leading members of 
the administration, including Truman himself, sought to minimize the degree 
of past Communist infiltration, on the other hand, the administration let 
loose a buckshot security program which itself inflamed the problems. This 
included the turning of lie Attorney-General's list of subversive organizations 
into a blank check-list to deny individuals passports and even non-government 
jobs; an unfair loyalty program in which individuals could not even face 
their accusers; and the prosecution of the Communist Party leaders under 
the Smith Act. 

15 Before the Civil War and immigration, discrimination in America was 
almost solely on religious grounds. In the decades that followed, the rising 
social classes began to create status demarcations. For an excellent account 
of the turning-point in social discrimination in America, i.e., its emergence 
in an egalitarian society, see the essay by Oscar Handlin, "The Acquisition 
of Political and Social Rights by the Jews in the United States," in the 
American Jewish Yearbook, 1955. 

In the expansion and prosperity of the 1870s and 1880s, Professor Handlin 
points out, "many a man having earned a fortune, even a modest one, 
thereafter found himself laboring under the burden of complex anxieties. 
He knew that success was by its nature evanescent. Fortunes were made 
only to be lost; what was earned in one generation would disappear in the 
next. Such a man, therefore, wished not only to retain that which he had 
gained; he was also eager for the social recognition that would permit him 
to enjoy his possessions; and he sought to extend these on in time through 
his family. . . . The last decades of the nineteenth century therefore witnessed 
a succession of attempts to set up areas of exclusiveness that would mark 
off the favored groups and protect them against excessive contact with out- 
siders. In imitation of the English model, there was an effort to create a 
'high society' with its own protocol and conventions, with suitable resi- 
dences in suitable districts, with distinctive clubs and media of entertain- 
ment, all of which would mark off and preserve the wealth of the fortunate 

For an account of a parallel development in England, see the essay by 
Miriam Beard in the volume by Graeber and Britt, Jews in a Gentile World. 
For the sources of discrimination in American traditions and populism, see 
Daniel Bell, "The Grassroots of Jew Hatred in America," The Jewish Fron- 
tier, June, 1944. 

16 Svend Ranulf, Moral Indignation and Middle Class Psychology, Copen- 
hagen, 1938. 

** De TocqueviUe, Democracy in America (New York, 1945), Vol. II, page 

Richard Niebuhr, Social Sources of Denominationalism (New York, 
1929), page 141. 

19 See W. W. Sweet, Revivalism in America (New York, 1944). 

20 Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (New York, 1950). 

21 Granvffle Hicks, Where We Came Out (New York, 1954). 

Interpretations of American Politics 1955 61 

22 1 have attempted to assemble some of that evidence in my essay on the 
history of American Marxist parties in the volume Socialism and American 
Life, edited by Egbert and Persons (Princeton, 1952). 

23 The sense of being a hunted, isolated minority is reflected quite vividly in 
an editorial note in The Freeman June, 1955: "Since the advent of the 
New Deal (An Americanized version of Fabian socialism) the mass circula- 
tion media in this country have virtually closed their columns to opposition 
articles. For this they can hardly be blamed; their business is to sell paper 
at so much a pound and advertising space at so much a line. They must 
give the masses what they believe the masses want, if they are to maintain 
their mass circulation business; and there is no doubt that the promises of 
socialism reiterated by the propaganda machine of the government, have made 
it popular and dulled the public mind to the verities of freedom." 

24 Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation, Oxford edition, 
page 3; see also, Elie Halevy, Growth of Philosophical Radicalism (New York, 
1928); pp. 14-18. 

25 The distinction, thus, is more than one between opinion and behavior. 
Quite often an ideological decision will have greater weight for a group 
than immediate self-interest (defined in rational market terms), and the 
group will act on the basis of ideology. The task of a realistic social 
psychology is to identify under what circumstances the ideological or market 
conditions will prevail. 

2 ^ Edmund Wilson, in Eight Essays [New York, 1954 (Anchor Books, 
page 213).] 

2 7See Harold J. Laski, The Rise of Liberalism (New York, 1938), pp. 43-51. 
Also, Franz Neumann, Behemoth (New York), pp. 442-47. 

28 See Neal Riemer, "James Madison's Theory of the Self-Destructive Features 
of Republican Government," Ethics, Vol. 65, Oct. 1954, pp. 34-43. 

29 See John Stuart Mill, Representative Government (Everyman's Library, 
1936), pp. 209, 201. 


The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 7955 


TWENTY YEARS ago the dynamic force in American political 
life came from the side of liberal dissent, from the impulse to re- 
form the inequities of our economic and social system and to change 
our ways of doing things, to the end that the sufferings of the Great 
Depression would never be repeated. Today the dynamic force in 
our political life no longer comes from the liberals who made the 
New Deal possible. By 1952 the liberals had had at least the trap- 
pings of power for twenty years. They could look back to a brief, ex- 
citing period in the mid-thirties when they had held power itself 
and had been able to transform the economic and administrative 
life of the nation. After twenty years the New Deal liberals have 
quite unconsciously taken on the psychology of those who have 
entered into possession. Moreover, a large part of the New Deal 
public, the jobless, distracted and bewildered men of 1933, have in 
the course of the years found substantial places in society for them- 
selves, have become home-owners, suburbanites and solid citizens. 
Many of them still keep the emotional commitments to the liberal 
dissent with which they grew up politically, but their social position 
is one of solid comfort. Among them the dominant tone has be- 
come one of satisfaction, even of a kind of conservatism. Insofar as 
Adlai Stevenson won their enthusiasm in 1952, it was not in spite of, 
but in part because of the air of poised and reliable conservatism 
that he brought to the Democratic convention. By comparison, Harry 
Truman's impassioned rhetoric, with its occasional thrusts at "Wall 
Street," seemed passe and rather embarrassing. The change did 
not escape Stevenson himself. "The strange alchemy of time," he 
said in a speech at Columbus, "has somehow converted the Demo- 
crats into the truly conservative party of this country the party 

64 The Radical Right 

dedicated to conserving all that is best, and building solidly and 
safely on these foundations." The most that the old liberals can 
now envisage is not to carry on with some ambitious new program, 
but simply to defend as much as possible of the old achievements 
and to try to keep traditional liberties of expression that are threat- 

There is, however, a dynamic of dissent in America today. Rep- 
resenting no more than a modest fraction of the electorate, it is not 
so powerful as the liberal dissent of the New Deal era, but it is 
powerful enough to set the tone of our political life and to establish 
throughout the country a kind of punitive reaction. The new dissent 
is certainly not radical there are hardly any radicals of any sort 
left nor is it precisely conservative. Unlike most of the liberal dis- 
sent of the past, the new dissent not only has no respect for non- 
conformism, but is based upon a relentless demand for conformity. 
It can most accurately be called pseudo-conservative I borrow the 
term from the study of The Authoritarian Personality published 
five years ago by Theodore W. Adorno and his associates because 
its exponents, although they believe themselves to be conservatives 
and usually employ the rhetoric of conservatism, show signs of a 
serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions and 
institutions. They have little in common with the temperate and 
compromising spirit of true conservatism in the classical sense of the 
word, and they are far from pleased with the dominant practical 
conservatism of the moment as it is represented by the Eisenhower 
administration. Their political reactions express rather a profound if 
largely unconscious hatred of our society and its ways a hatred 
which one would hesitate to impute to them if one did not have sug- 
gestive clinical evidence. 

From clinical interviews and thematic apperception tests, Adorno 
and his co-workers found that their pseudo-conservative subjects, al- 
though given to a form of political expression that combines a curious 
mixture of largely conservative with occasional radical notions, suc- 
ceed in concealing from themselves impulsive tendencies that, if 
released in action, would be very far from conservative. The pseudo- 
conservative, Adorno writes, shows "conventionality and authoritar- 
ian submissiveness" in his conscious thinking and "violence, anarchic 
impulses, and chaotic destructiveness in the unconscious sphere. 
. . . The pseudo conservative is a man who, in the name of uphold- 
ing traditional American values and institutions and defending them 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 65 

against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously 
aims at their abolition/' 1 

Who is the pseudo conservative, and what does he want? It is 
impossible to identify him by class, for the pseudo-conservative im- 
pulse can be found in practically all classes in society, although its 
power probably rests largely upon its appeal to the less educated 
members of the middle classes. The ideology of pseudo-conserva- 
tism can be characterized but not defined, because the pseudo-con- 
servative tends to be more than ordinarily incoherent about politics. 
The lady who, when General Eisenhower's victory over Senator 
Taft had finally become official, stalked out of the Hilton Hotel de- 
claiming, "This means eight more years of socialism" was probably 
a fairly good representative of the pseudo-conservative mentality. 
So also were the gentlemen who, at the Freedom Congress held at 
Omaha over a year ago by some "patriotic" organizations, objected 
to Earl Warren's appointment to the Supreme Court with the asser- 
tion: "Middle-of-the-road thinking can and will destroy us"; the 
general who spoke to the same group, demanding "an Air Force 
capable of wiping out the Russian Air Force and industry in one 
sweep," but also "a material reduction in military expenditures"; 2 
the people who a few years ago believed simultaneously that we 
had no business to be fighting communism in Korea, but that the 
war should immediately be extended to an Asia-wide crusade against 
communism; and the most ardent supporters of the Bricker Amend- 
ment. Many of the most zealous followers of Senator McCarthy 
are also pseudo-conservatives, although there are presumably a great 
many others who are not. 

The restlessness, suspicion and fear manifested in various phases 
of the pseudo-conservative revolt give evidence of the real suffer- 
ing which the pseudo-conservative experiences in his capacity as a 
citizen. He believes himself to be living in a world in which he is spied 
upon, plotted against, betrayed, and very likely destined for total 
ruin. He feels that his liberties have been arbitrarily and outra- 
geously invaded. He is opposed to almost everything that has hap- 
pened in American politics for the past twenty years. He hates the 
very thought of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is disturbed deeply by 
American participation in the United Nations, which he can see only 
as a sinister organization. He sees his own country as being so 
weak that it is constantly about to fall victim to subversion; and yet 
he feels that it is so all-powerful that any failure it may experience 

66 The Radical Right 

in getting its way in the world for instance, in the Orient can- 
not possibly be due to its limitations but must be attributed to its 
having been betrayed, 3 He is the most bitter of all our citizens about 
our involvement in the wars of the past, but seems the least con- 
cerned about avoiding the next one. While he naturally does not 
like Soviet communism, what distinguishes him from the rest of us 
who also dislike it is that he shows little interest in, is often indeed 
bitterly hostile to such realistic measures as might actually strengthen 
the United States vis-a-vis Russia. He would much rather concern 
himself with the domestic scene, where communism is weak, than 
with those areas of the world where it is really strong and threat- 
ening. He wants to have nothing to do with the democratic nations 
of Western Europe, which seem to draw more of his ire than the 
Soviet Communists, and he is opposed to all "give-away programs" 
designed to aid and strengthen these nations. Indeed, he is likely to 
be antagonistic to most of the operations of our federal government 
except Congressional investigations, and to almost all of its ex- 
penditures. Not always, however, does he go so far as the speaker at 
the Freedom Congress who attributed the greater part of our national 
difficulties to "this nasty, stinking 16th [income tax] Amendment." 
A great deal of pseudo-conservative thinking takes the form of 
trying to devise means of absolute protection against that betrayal 
by our own officialdom which the pseudo-conservative feels is al- 
ways imminent. The Bricker Amendment, indeed, might be taken 
as one of the primary symptoms of pseudo-conservatism. Every dis- 
senting movement brings its demand for Constitutional changes; and 
the pseudo-conservative revolt, far from being an exception to this 
principle, seems to specialize in Constitutional revision, at least as 
a speculative enterprise. The widespread latent hostility toward 
American institutions takes the form, among other things, of a flood 
of proposals to write drastic changes into the body of our funda- 
mental law. Last summer, in a characteristically astute piece, 
Richard Rovere pointed out that Constitution-amending had become 
almost a major diversion in the Eighty-third Congress. 4 About a 
hundred amendments were introduced and referred to committee. 
Several of these called for the repeal of the income tax. Several 
embodied formulas of various kinds to limit non-military expendi- 
tures to some fixed portion of the national income. One proposed to 
bar all federal expenditures on "the general welfare"; another, to 
prohibit American troops from serving in any foreign country except 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 67 

on the soil of the potential enemy; another, to redefine treason to 
embrace not only persons trying to overthrow the government but 
also those trying to "weaken" it, even by peaceful means. The last 
proposal might bring the pseudo-conservative rebels themselves under 
the ban of treason: for the sum total of these amendments might 
easily serve to bring the whole structure of American society crash- 
ing to the ground. 

As Mr. Rovere points out, it is not unusual for a large number of 
Constitutional amendments to be lying about somewhere in the 
Congressional hoppers. What is unusual is the readiness the Senate 
has shown to give them respectful consideration, and the peculiar 
populistic arguments some of its leading members have used to justify 
referring them to the state legislatures. While the ordinary Congress 
hardly ever has occasion to consider more than one amendment, 
the Eighty-third Congress saw six Constitutional amendments 
brought to the floor of the Senate, all summoning simple majorities, 
and four winning the two-thirds majority necessary before they can 
be sent to the House and ultimately to the state legislatures. It 
must be added that, with the possible exception of the Bricker 
Amendment itself, none of the six amendments so honored can be 
classed with the most extreme proposals. But the pliability of the 
senators, the eagerness of some of them to pass the buck and defer 
to "the people of the country," suggests how strong they feel the 
pressure to be for some kind of change that will give expression to 
that vague desire to repudiate the past that underlies the pseudo- 
conservative revolt. 

One of the most urgent questions we can ask about the United 
States in our time is the question of where all this sentiment 
arose. The readiest answer is that the new pseudo-conservatism is 
simply the old ultra-conservatism and the old isolationism height- 
ened by the extraordinary pressures of the contemporary world. This 
answer, true though it may be, gives a deceptive sense of familiarity 
without much deepening our understanding, for the particular pat- 
terns of American isolationism and extreme right-wing thinking have 
themselves not been very satisfactorily explored. It will not do, to 
take but one example, to say that some people want the income 
tax amendment repealed because taxes have become very heavy in 
the past twenty years: for this will not explain why, of three people 
in the same tax bracket, one will grin and bear it and continue to 
support social welfare legislation as well as an adequate defense, 

68 The Radical Right 

while another responds by supporting in a matter-of-fact way the 
practical conservative leadership of the moment, and the third finds 
his feelings satisfied only by the angry conspiratorial accusations and 
extreme demands of the pseudo-conservative. 

No doubt the circumstances determining the political style of any 
individual are complex. Although I am concerned here to discuss 
some of the neglected socio-psychological elements in pseudo-con- 
servatism, I do not wish to appear to deny the presence of important 
economic and political causes. I am aware, for instance, that wealthy 
reactionaries try to use pseudo-conservative organizers, spokesmen 
and groups to propagate their notions of public policy, and that 
some organizers of pseudo-conservative and "patriotic" groups often 
find in this work a means of making a living thus turning a tendency 
toward paranoia into a vocational asset, probably one of the most 
perverse forms of occupational therapy known to man. A number 
of other circumstances the drastic inflation and heavy taxes of our 
time, the dissolution of American urban life, considerations of 
partisan political expediency also play a part. But none of these 
things seem to explain the broad appeal of pseudo-conservatism, its 
emotional intensity, its dense and massive irrationality, or some of 
the peculiar ideas it generates. Nor will they explain why those who 
profit by the organized movements find such a ready following among 
a large number of people, and why the rank-and-file janizaries of 
pseudo-conservatism are so eager to hurl accusations, write letters 
to congressmen and editors, and expend so much emotional energy 
and crusading idealism upon causes that plainly bring them no mate- 
rial reward. 

Elmer Davis, seeking to account for such sentiment in his recent 
book, But We Were Bom Free, ventures a psychological hypothesis. 
He concludes, if I understand him correctly, that the genuine dif- 
ficulties of our situation in the face of the power of international 
communism have inspired a widespread feeling of fear and frustra- 
tion, and that those who cannot face these problems in a more 
rational way "take it out on their less influential neighbors, in the 
mood of a man who, being afraid to stand up to his wife in a 
domestic argument, relieves his feelings by kicking the cat." 5 This 
suggestion has the merit of both simplicity and plausibility, and it 
may begin to account for a portion of the pseudo-conservative public. 
But while we may dismiss our curiosity about the man who kicks 
the cat by remarking that some idiosyncrasy in his personal develop- 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 69 

ment has brought him to this pass, we can hardly help but wonder 
whether there are not, in the backgrounds of the hundreds of thou- 
sands of persons who are moved by the pseudo-conservative im- 
pulse, some commonly shared circumstances that will help to ac- 
count for their all kicking the cat in unison. 

All of us have reason to fear the power of international com- 
munism, and all our lives are profoundly affected by it. Why do 
some Americans try to face this threat for what it is, a problem 
that exists in a world-wide theater of action, while others try to re- 
duce it largely to a matter of domestic conformity? Why do some 
of us prefer to look for allies in the democratic world, while others 
seem to prefer authoritarian allies or none at all? Why do the pseudo- 
conservatives express such a persistent fear and suspicion of their 
own government, whether its leadership rests in the hands of Roose- 
velt, Truman or Eisenhower? Why is the pseudo-conservative im- 
pelled to go beyond the more or less routine partisan argument 
that we have been the victims of considerable misgovernment dur- 
ing the past twenty years to the disquieting accusation that we have 
actually been the victims of persistent conspiracy and betrayal 
"twenty years of treason?" Is it not true, moreover, that political 
types very similar to the pseudo-conservative have had a long his- 
tory in the United States, and that this history goes back to a time 
when the Soviet power did not loom nearly so large on our mental 
horizons? Was the Ku Klux Klan, for instance, which was responsibly 
estimated to have had a membership of from 4,000,000 to 4,500,000 
persons at its peak in the 1920s, a phenomenon totally dissimilar to 
the pseudo-conservative revolt? 

What I wish to suggest and I do so in the spirit of one setting 
forth nothing more than a speculative hypothesis is that pseudo- 
conservatism is in good part a product of the rootlessness and heter- 
ogeneity of American life, and above all, of its peculiar scramble for 
status and its peculiar search for secure identity. Normally there is a 
world of difference between one's sense of national identity or cul- 
tural belonging and one's social status. However, in American his- 
torical development, these two things, so easily distinguishable in 
analysis, have been jumbled together in reality, and it is precisely 
this that has given such a special poignancy and urgency to our 
status-strivings. In this country a person's status that is, his rela- 
tive place in the prestige hierarchy of his community and his 
rudimentary sense of belonging to the community that is, what we 

70 The Radical Right 

call Ms "Americanism" have been intimately joined. Because, as a 
people extremely democratic in our social institutions., we have 
had no clear, consistent and recognizable system of status, our per- 
sonal status problems have an unusual intensity. Because we no 
longer have the relative ethnic homogeneity we had up to about 
eighty years ago, our sense of belonging has long had about it a 
high degree of uncertainty. We boast of "the melting pot," but we 
are not quite sure what it is that will remain when we have been 
melted down. 

We have always been proud of the high degree of occupational 
mobility in our country of the greater readiness, as compared with 
other countries, with which a person starting in a very humble place 
in our social structure could rise to a position of moderate wealth 
and status, and with which a person starting with a middling position 
could rise to great eminence. We have looked upon this as laudable 
in principle, for it is democratic, and as pragmatically desirable, for 
it has served many a man as a stimulus to effort and has, no 
doubt, a great deal to do with the energetic and effectual tone of 
our economic life. The American pattern of occupational mobility, 
while often much exaggerated, as in the Horatio Alger stories and 
a great deal of the rest of our mythology, may properly be credited 
with many of the virtues and beneficial effects that are usually at- 
tributed to it But this occupational and social mobility, compounded 
by our extraordinary mobility from place to place, has also had its 
less frequently recognized drawbacks. Not the least of them is that 
this has become a country in which so many people do not know 
who they are or what they are or what they belong to or what be- 
longs to them. It is a country of people whose status expectations 
are random and uncertain, and yet whose status aspirations have 
been whipped up to a high pitch by our democratic ethos and our 
rags-to-riches mythology. 6 

In a country where physical needs have been, by the scale of 
the world's living standards, on the whole well met, the luxury of 
questing after status has assumed an unusually prominent place in 
our civic consciousness. Political life is not simply an arena in which 
the conflicting interests of various social groups in concrete material 
gains are fought out; it is also an arena into which status aspirations 
and frustrations are, as the psychologists would say, projected. It is 
at this point that the issues of politics, or the pretended issues of 
politics, become interwoven with and dependent upon the personal 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 71 

problems of individuals. We have, at all times, two kinds of proc- 
esses going on in inextricable connection with each other: interest 
politics, the clash of material aims and needs among various groups 
and blocs; and status politics, the clash of various projective rational- 
izations arising from status aspirations and other personal motives. 
In times of depression and economic discontent and by and large 
in times of acute national emergency politics Is more clearly a 
matter of interests, although of course status considerations are still 
present. In times of prosperity and general well-being on the material 
plane, status considerations among the masses can become much 
more influential in our politics. The two periods in our recent history 
in which status politics has been particularly prominent, the present 
era and the 1920s, have both been periods of prosperity. 

During depressions, the dominant motif in dissent takes ex- 
pression in proposals for reform or in panaceas. Dissent then tends 
to be highly programmatic that is, it gets itself embodied in many 
kinds of concrete legislative proposals. It is also future-oriented 
and forward-looking, in the sense that it looks to a time when the 
adoption of this or that program will materially alleviate or elimi- 
nate certain discontents. In prosperity, however, when status politics 
becomes relatively more important, there is a tendency to embody 
discontent not so much in legislative proposals as in grousing. For 
the basic aspirations that underlie status discontent are only partially 
conscious; and, even so far as they are conscious, It is difficult to 
give them a programmatic expression. It Is more difficult for the 
old lady who belongs to the D.A.R. and who sees her ancestral 
home swamped by new working-class dwellings to express her ani- 
mus in concrete proposals of any degree of reality than it Is, say, for 
the jobless worker during a slump to rally to a relief program. 
Therefore, it is the tendency of status politics to be expressed more 
in vlndictiveness, in sour memories, in the search for scapegoats, 
than in realistic proposals for positive action. 7 

Paradoxically the intense status concerns of present-day politics 
are shared by two types of persons who arrive at them, in a sense, 
from opposite directions. The first are found among some types of 
old-family, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and the second are found among 
many types of immigrant families, most notably among the Ger- 
mans and Irish, who are very frequently Catholic. 

The Anglo-Saxons are most disposed toward pseudo-conserva- 

72 The Radical Right 

tism when they are losing caste, the immigrants when they are gain- 
ing. 8 

Consider first the old-family Americans. These people, whose 
stocks were once far more unequivocally dominant in America than 
they are today, feel that their ancestors made and settled and fought 
for this country. They have a certain inherited sense of proprietor- 
ship in it. Since America has always accorded a certain special def- 
erence to old families so many of our families are new these 
people have considerable claims to status by descent, which they 
celebrate by membership in such organizations as the D.A.R. and 
the S.A.R., But large numbers of them are actually losing their other 
claims to status. For there are among them a considerable number 
of the shabby genteel, of those who for one reason or another have 
lost their old objective positions in the life of business and politics 
and the professions, and who therefore cling with exceptional des- 
peration to such remnants of their prestige as they can muster from 
their ancestors. These people, although very often quite well-to-do, 
feel that they have been pushed out of their rightful place in Ameri- 
can life, even out of their neighborhoods. Most of them have been 
traditional Republicans by family inheritance, and they have felt 
themselves edged aside by the immigrants, the trade unions, and 
the urban machines in the past thirty years. When the immigrants 
were weak, these native elements used to indulge themselves in 
ethnic and religious snobberies at their expense. 9 Now the immigrant 
groups have developed ample means, political and economic, of self- 
defense, and the second and third^generations have become con- 
siderably more capable of looking out for themselves. Some of the 
old-family Americans have turned to find new objects for their re- 
sentment among liberals, left-wingers, intellectuals and the like 
for in true pseudo-conservative fashion they relish weak victims and 
shrink from asserting themselves against the strong. 

New-family Americans have had their own peculiar status prob- 
lem. From 1881 to 1900 over 8,800,000 immigrants came here, 
during the next twenty years another 14,500,000. These immi- 
grants, together with their descendants, constitute such a large por- 
tion of the population that Margaret Mead, in a stimulating analysis 
of our national character, has persuasively urged that the char- 
acteristic American outlook is now a third-generation point of view. 10 
In their search for new lives and new nationality, these immigrants 
have suffered much, and they have been rebuffed and made to feel 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 73 

inferior by the "native stock," commonly being excluded from the 
better occupations and even from what has bitterly been called "first- 
class citizenship." Insecurity over social status has thus been mixed 
with insecurity over one's very identity and sense of belonging. 
Achieving a better type of job or a better social status and be- 
coming "more American" have become practically synonymous, and 
the passions that ordinarily attach to social position have been vastly 
heightened by being associated with the need to belong. 

The problems raised by the tasks of keeping the family together, 
disciplining children for the American race for success, trying to con- 
form to unfamiliar standards, protecting economic and social status 
won at the cost of much sacrifice, holding the respect of children 
who grow American more rapidly than their parents, have thrown 
heavy burdens on the internal relationships of many new American 
families. Both new and old American families have been troubled 
by the changes of the past thirty years the new because of their 
striving for middle-class respectability and American identity, the 
old because of their efforts to maintain an inherited social position 
and to realize under increasingly unfavorable social conditions im- 
peratives of character and personal conduct deriving from nine- 
teenth-century, Yankee-Protestant-rural backgrounds. The relations 
between generations, being cast in no stable mold, have been dis- 
ordered, and the status anxieties of parents have been inflicted upon 
children. 11 Often parents entertain status aspirations that they are 
unable to gratify, or that they can gratify only at exceptional psychic 
cost. Their children aie expected to relieve their frustrations and 
redeem their lives. They become objects to be manipulated to that 
end. An extraordinarily high level of achievement is expected of 
them, and along with it a tremendous effort to conform and be 
respectable. From the standpoint of the children these expectations 
often appear in the form of an exorbitantly demanding authority 
that one dare not question or defy. Resistance and hostility, finding 
no moderate outlet in give-and-take, have to be suppressed, and re- 
appear in the form of an internal destructive rage. An enormous 
hostility to authority, which cannot be admitted to consciousness, 
calls forth a massive overcompensation which is manifest in the form 
of extravagant submissiveness to strong power. Among those found 
by Adorno and his colleagues to have strong ethnic prejudices and 
pseudo-conservative tendencies, there is a high proportion of per- 
sons who have been unable to develop the capacity to criticize 

74 The Radical Right 

justly and in moderation the failings of parents and who are pro- 
foundly intolerant of the ambiguities of thought and feeling that 
one is so likely to find in real-life situations. For pseudo-conservatism 
is among other things a disorder in relation to authority, characterized 
by an inability to find other modes for human relationship than 
those of more or less complete domination or submission. The pseudo- 
conservative always imagines himself to be dominated and imposed 
upon because he feels that he is not dominant, and knows of no 
other way of interpreting his position. He imagines that his own gov- 
ernment and his own leadership are engaged in a more or less con- 
tinuous conspiracy against him because he has come to think of 
authority only as something that aims to manipulate and deprive 
him. It is for this reason, among others, that he enjoys seeing out- 
standing generals, distinguished secretaries of state, and prominent 
scholars browbeaten and humiliated. 

Status problems take on a special importance in American life 
because a very large part of the population suffers from one of the 
most troublesome of all status questions: unable to enjoy the simple 
luxury of assuming their own nationality as a natural event, they 
are tormented by a nagging doubt as to whether they are really 
and truly and fully American. Since their forebears voluntarily left 
one country and embraced another, they cannot, as people do 
elsewhere, think of nationality as something that comes with birth; 
for them it is a matter of choice, and an object of striving. This is 
one reason why problems of "loyalty" arouse such an emotional 
response in many Americans and why it is so hard in the American 
climate of opinion to make any clear distinction between the prob- 
lem of national security and the question of personal loyalty. Of 
course there is no real reason to doubt the loyalty to America of 
the immigrants and their descendants, or their willingness to serve 
the country as fully as if their ancestors had lived here for three 
centuries. None the less, they have been thrown on the defensive by 
those who have in the past cast doubts upon the fullness of their 
Americanism. Possibly they are also, consciously or unconsciously, 
troubled by the thought that since their forebears have already aban- 
doned one country, one allegiance, their own national allegiance 
might be considered fickle. For this I believe there is some evidence 
in our national practices. What other country finds it so necessary to 
create institutional rituals for the sole purpose of guaranteeing to its 
people the genuineness of their nationality? Does the Frenchman or 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 75 

.the Englishman or the Italian find it necessary to speak of him- 
self as "one hundred per cent" English, French or Italian? Do they 
find it necessary to have their equivalents of "I Am an American 
Day?" When they disagree with one another over national policies, 
do they find it necessary to call one another un-English, un-French 
or un-Italian? No doubt they too are troubled by subversive activities 
and espionage, but are their countermeasures taken under the name 
of committees on un-English, un-French or un-Italian activities? 

The primary value of patriotic societies and anti-subversive ide- 
ologies to their exponents can be found here. They provide additional 
and continued reassurance both to those who are of old American 
ancestry and have other status grievances and to those who are of 
recent American ancestry and therefore feel in need of reassurance 
about their nationality. Veterans' organizations offer the same satis- 
faction what better evidence can there be of the genuineness of 
nationality and of earned citizenship than military service under the 
flag of one's country? Of course such organizations, once they exist, 
are liable to exploitation by vested interests that can use them as 
pressure groups on behalf of particular measures and interests. 
(Veterans' groups, since they lobby for the concrete interests of 
veterans, have a double role in this respect.) But the cement that 
holds them together is the status motivation and the desire for an 

Sociological studies have shown that there is a close relation be- 
tween social mobility and ethnic prejudice. Persons moving down- 
ward, and even upward under many circumstances, in the social scale 
tend to show greater prejudice against such ethnic minorities as 
the Jews and Negroes than commonly prevails in the social strata 
they have left or are entering. 12 While the existing studies in this 
field have been focused upon prejudice rather than the kind of 
hyper-patriotism and hyper-conformism that I am most concerned 
with, I believe that the typical prejudiced person and the typical 
pseudo-conservative dissenter are usually the same person, that the 
mechanisms at work in both complexes are quite the same, 13 and 
that it is merely the expediencies and the strategy of the situation 
today that cause groups that once stressed racial discrimination to 
find other scapegoats. Both the displaced old-American type and the 
new ethnic elements that are so desperately eager for reassurance 
of their fundamental Americanism can conveniently converge upon 
liberals, critics, and nonconformists of various sorts, as well as Com- 

76 The Radical Right 

munists and suspected Communists. To proclaim themselves vigilant 
in the pursuit of those who are even so much as accused of "dis- 
loyalty" to the United States is a way not only of reasserting but^of 
advertising their own loyalty and one of the chief characteristics 
of American super-patriotism is its constant inner urge toward self- 
advertisement. One notable quality in this new wave of conformism 
is that its advocates are much happier to have as their objects of 
hatred the Anglo-Saxon, Eastern, Ivy League intellectual gentlemen 
than they are with such bedraggled souls as, say, the Rosenbergs. 
The reason, I believe, is that in the minds of the status-driven it is 
no special virtue to be more American than the Rosenbergs, but it 
is really something to be more American than Dean Acheson or 
John Foster Dulles or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 14 The status 
aspirations of some of the ethnic groups are actually higher than they 
were twenty years ago which suggests one reason (there are others) 
why, in the ideology of the authoritarian right-wing, anti-Semitism 
and such blatant forms of prejudice have recently been soft-pedaled. 
Anti-Semitism, it has been said, is the poor man's snobbery. We 
Americans are always trying to raise the standard of living, and the 
same principle now seems to apply to standards of hating. So 
during the past fifteen years or so, the authoritarians have moved 
on from anti-Negroism and anti-Semitism to anti-Achesonianism, anti- 
intellectualism, anti-nonconformism, and other variants of the same 
idea, much in the same way as the average American, if he can manage 
it, will move on from a Ford to a Buick. 

Such status-strivings may help us to understand some of the other- 
wise unintelligible figments of the pseudo-conservative ideology 
the incredibly bitter feeling against the United Nations, for instance. 
Is it not understandable that such a feeling might be, paradoxically, 
shared at one and the same time by an old Yankee-Protestant Ameri- 
can, who feels that his social position is not what it ought to be 
and that these foreigners are crowding in on his country and dilut- 
ing its sovereignty just as "foreigners" have crowded into his neigh- 
borhood, and by a second- or third-generation immigrant who has 
been trying so hard to. de-Europeanize himself, to get Europe out of 
his personal heritage, and who finds his own government mocking 
Mm by its complicity in these Old-World schemes? 

Similarly, is it not status aspiration that in good part spurs the 
pseudo-conservative on toward his demand for conformity in a wide 
variety of spheres of life? Conformity is a way of guaranteeing 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 77 

and manifesting respectability among those who are not sure that 
they are respectable enough. The nonconformity of others appears 
to such persons as a frivolous challenge to the whole order of things 
they are trying so hard to become part of. Naturally it is resented, 
and the demand for conformity in public becomes at once an ex- 
pression of such resentment and a means of displaying one's own 
soundness. TMs habit has a tendency to spread from politics into 
intellectual and social spheres, where it can be made to challenge 
almost anyone whose pattern of life is different and who is imag- 
ined to enjoy a superior social position notably, as one agitator 
put it, the "parlors of the sophisticated, the intellectuals, the so-called 
academic minds." 

Why has this tide of pseudo-conservative dissent risen to such 
heights in our time? To a considerable degree, we must remember, 
it is a response, however unrealistic, to realities. We do live in a dis- 
ordered world, threatened by a great power and a powerful ide- 
ology. It is a world of enormous potential violence, that has al- 
ready shown us the ugliest capacities of the human spirit. In our 
own country there has indeed been espionage, and laxity over 
security has in fact allowed some spies to reach high places. There 
is just enough reality at most points along the line to give a touch of 
credibility to the melodramatics of the pseudo-conservative imagina- 

However, a number of developments in our recent history make 
this pseudo-conservative uprising more intelligible. For two hundred 
years and more, various conditions of American development the 
process of continental settlement, the continuous establishment in 
new areas of new status patterns, the arrival of continuous waves 
of new immigrants, each pushing the preceding waves upward in 
the ethnic hierarchy made it possible to satisfy a remarkably large 
part of the extravagant status aspirations that were aroused. There 
was a sort of automatic built-in status-elevator in the American social 
edifice. Today that elevator no longer operates automatically, or at 
least no longer operates in the same way. 

Secondly, the growth of the mass media of communication and 
their use in politics have brought politics closer to the people than 
ever before and have made politics a form of entertainment in 
which the spectators feel themselves involved. Thus it has become, 
more than ever before, an arena into which private emotions and 

78 The Radical Right 

personal problems can be readily projected. Mass communications 
have aroused the mass man. 

Thirdly, the long tenure in power of the liberal elements to which 
the pseudo-conservatives are most opposed and the wide variety of 
changes that have been introduced into our social, economic and 
administrative life have intensified the sense of powerlessness and 
victimization among the opponents of these changes and have wid- 
ened the area of social issues over which they feel discontent. There 
has been, among other things, the emergence of a wholly new strug- 
gle: the conflict between businessmen of certain types and the New 
Deal bureaucracy, which has spilled over into a resentment of in- 
tellectuals and experts. 

Finally, unlike our previous postwar periods, ours has been a 
period of continued crisis, from which the future promises no relief. 
In no foreign war of our history did we fight so long or make such 
sacrifices as in World War II. When it was over, instead of being 
able to resume our peacetime preoccupations, we were very promptly 
confronted with another war. It is hard for a certain type of Ameri- 
can, who does not think much about the world outside and does not 
want to have to do so, to understand why we must become involved 
in such an unremitting struggle. It will be the fate of those in power 
for a long time to come to have to conduct the delicate diplomacy 
of the cold peace without the sympathy or understanding of a large 
part of their own people. From bitter experience, Eisenhower and 
Dulles are learning today what Truman and Acheson learned yester- 

These considerations suggest that the pseudo-conservative political 
style, while it may already have passed the peak of its influence, 
is one of the long waves of twentieth-century American history 
and not a momentary mood. I do not share the widespread fore- 
boding among liberals that this form of dissent will grow until it 
overwhelms our liberties altogether and plunges us into a totalitarian 
nightmare. Indeed, the idea that it is purely and simply fascist or 
totalitarian, as we have known these things in recent European his- 
tory, is to my mind a false conception, based upon the failure to 
read American developments in terms of our peculiar American con- 
stellation of political realities. (It reminds me of the people who, 
because they found several close parallels between the NRA and 
Mussolini's corporate state, were once deeply troubled at the thought 
that the NRA was the beginning of American fascism.) However, in 

The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt 1955 79 

a populistic culture like ours, which seems to lack a responsible elte 
with political and moral autonomy, and in which it is possible to 
exploit the wildest currents of public sentiment for private purposes, 
it is at least conceivable that a highly organized, vocal, active and 
well-financed minority could create a political climate in which the 
rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impos- 

i Theodore W. Adorno et aL, The Authoritarian Personality (New York, 
1950), pp. 675-76. WMle 1 have drawn heavily upon this enlghtemng study, 

1 have some reservations about its methods and conclusions. For a critical 
review, see Richard Christie and Marie Jahoda, eds., Studies in the Scope and 
Method of "The Authoritarian Personality" (Glencoe, Illinois, 1954), particu- 
larly the penetrating comments by Edward Shils. 

2 On the Omaha Freedom Congress see Leonard Boasberg, "Radical Reac- 
tionaries," The Progressive, December, 1953. 

3 See the comments of D. W. Brogan in "The Illusion of American Omnipo- 
tence," Harper's, December, 1952. 

4 Richard Rovere, "Letter from Washington," The New Yorker, June 19, 1954, 
pp. 67-72. 

5 Elmer Davis, But We Were Bom Free (New York, 1954), pp. 35-36; cf. 
pp. 2122 and passim* 

6 Cf. in this respect the observation of Tocqueville: "It cannot be denied that 
democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy in the 
human heart; not so much because they afford to everyone the means of 
rising to the same level with others as because these means perpetually 
disappoint the persons who employ them. Democratic institutions awaken and 
foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy." Alexis, 
de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. by Phillips Bradley (New York; 
1945), Vol. I, p. 201. 

7 Cf . Samuel LubeU's characterization of isolationism as a vengeful memory. 
The Future of American Politics (New York, 1952), Chapter VIL See also 
the comments of Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman on the right-wing 
agitator: "The agitator seems to steer clear of the area of material needs on 
which liberal and democratic movements concentrate; his main concern is 
a sphere of frustration that is usually ignored in traditional politics. The 
programs that concentrate on material needs seem to overlook that area of 
moral uncertainties and emotional frustrations that are the immediate mani- 
festations of malaise. It may therefore be conjectured that Ms followers find 
the agitator's statements attractive not because he occasionally promises to 
'maintain the American standards of living* or to provide a job for everyone, 
but because he intimates that he will give them the emotional satisfactions 
that are denied them in the contemporary social and economic set-up. He 
offers attitudes, not bread." Prophets of Deceit (New York, 1949), pp. 91-92. 

8 Every ethnic group has its own peculiar status history, and I am well aware 
that my remarks in the text slur over many important differences. The status 
history of the older immigrant groups like the Germans and the Irish is 
quite different from that of ethnic elements like the Italians, Poles and 
Czechs, who have more recently arrived at the point at which they are 
bidding for wide acceptance in the professional and white-collar classes, or 

80 The Radical Right 

at least for the middle-class standards of housing and consumption enjoyed 
by these classes. The case of the Irish is of special interest, because the Irish, 
with their long-standing prominence in municipal politics, qualified as it has 
been by their relative non-acceptance in many other spheres, have an unusually 
ambiguous status. In many ways they have gained, while in others, particu- 
larly insofar as their municipal power has recently been challenged by other 
groups, especially the Italians, they have lost some status and power. The 
election of 1928, with its religious bigotry and social snobbery, inflicted upon 
them a status trauma from which they have never fully recovered, for it 
was a symbol of the Protestant majority's rejection of their ablest leadership 
on grounds quite irrelevant to merit. This feeling was kept alive by the breach 
between Al Smith and F.D.R., followed by the rejection of Jim Farley from 
the New Deal succession. A study of the Germans would perhaps emphasize 
the effects of uneasiness over national loyalties arising from the Hitler era 
and World War n, but extending back even to World War I. 

9 One of the noteworthy features of the current situation is that fundamentalist 
Protestants and fundamentalist Catholics have so commonly subordinated 
their old feuds (and for the first time in our history) to unite in opposition 
to what they usually describe as "godless" elements. 

10 Margaret Mead, And Keep Your Powder Dry (New York, 1942), Chap- 
ter m. 

11 See Else Frenkel-Brunswik's "Parents and Childhood as seen through the 
Interviews," The Authoritarian Personality, Chapter X. The author remarks 
(pp. 387-88) concerning subjects who were relatively free from ethnic preju- 
dice that in then* families "less obedience is expected of the children. Parents 
are less status-ridden and thus show less anxiety with respect to conformity 
and are less intolerant toward manifestations of socially unaccepted be- 
havior. . . . Comparatively less pronounced status-concern often goes hand 
in hand with greater richness and liberation of emotional life. There is, on 
the whole, more affection, or more unconditional affection, in the families 
of unprejudiced subjects. There is less surrender to conventional rules. . . ." 

12 Cf. Joseph Greenblum and Leonard I. Pearlin, "Vertical Mobility and 
Prejudice" in Reinhard Bendix and Seymour M. Lipset, eds., Class, Status and 
Power (Glencoe, Illinois, 1953), pp. 480-91; Bruno Bettelheim and Morris 
Janowitz, "Ethnic Tolerance: A Function of Personal and Social Control," 
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. IV (1949), pp. 137-45. 

is The similarity is also posited by Adorno, op. cit., pp. 152 ff., and by others 
(see the studies cited by him, p. 152). 

14 1 refer to such men to make the point that this animosity extends to those 
who are guilty of no wrongdoing. Of course a person like Alger Hiss, who 
has been guilty, suits much better. Hiss is the hostage the pseudo-conservatives 
hold from the New Deal generation. He is a heaven-sent gift. If he did not 
exist, the pseudo-conservatives would not have been able to invent him. 


A Postscript 1962 


AT THE TIME these essays appeared, many critics objected 
to an assumption that I believe underlies all of them the assump- 
tion that the radical right is a response to certain underlying and 
continuing tensions in American society. It was held that the authors 
of these essays were being intellectually fancy and oversubfle. There 
was no need to go so far around the bend to find new explanations 
for these phenomena, critics complained, when the important ex- 
planations were obvious: the anxiety arising from the Korean stale- 
mate, coming as it did rigftt on die heels of the sacrifices of a 
major war; a series of startling revelations about Communist espi- 
onage; the long wartime and postwar inflation, the continuing 
high level of taxation, the frustration of the Republican Party shut 
out of the White House for twenty years. With all these things on tap 
to account for right-wing discontent, why invoke sociological forces 
whose relation to the issues seemed less direct? 

Such criticism, I believe, was based upon a fundamental mis- 
conception of what these essays were trying to do. I can speak only 
for myself, but I doubt that any of the authors would deny that the 
Korean War was in the foreground of radical-right thinking, or that 
taxation had a good deal to do with its economic discontents. But 
the authors of these essays were curious about something in which 
their OTtic?'~3p'"noT^^ tiiSJis^jfie 

whole complex of forces that underlay ^the^ 
to the frustrations^)? the 1950s.^ After all, not every wealthy Ameri- 
can demanded the repeal of tie income-tax amendment; not every 
Republican responded to the twenty-year period of Democratic as- 

82 The Radical Right 

cendancy by branding the Democratic Party as treasonous; not every 
American who was wearied by the Korean stalemate called for all- 
out war at the risk of starting World War III and, indeed, some 
Americans who expressed violent impatience over the conduct of 
the Korean War were those who were in fact benefiting from it 
economically. What puzzled us was how to account for .the complex 
of forces in the structure of American society, in American traditions, 
that made it possible for men and women who were sharing the 
same experiences and the same disorders to call for drastically dif- 
ferent types of remedies. After six or seven years of additional ob- 
servation of the extreme right, it now seems more probable that 
our original approach was correct. 

One aspect of my own essay that may be of enduring use and 
yet that now seems to require some modification is the concept of 
status politics. That there is a need for some such concept I have 
little doubt. My generation was raised in the conviction that the 
basic motive power in political behavior is the economic interest of 
groups. This is not the place to discuss at length the inadequacies 
of that view of the world, but it may be enough to say that we have 
learned to find it wanting as an account of much of the vital political 
behavior of our own time. However much importance we con- 
tinue to attach to economic interests or imagined economic interests 
in political action, we are still confronted from time to time with a 
wide range of behavior for which the economic interpretation of 
politics seems to be inadequate or misleading or altogether irrele- 
vant. It is to account for this range of behavior that we need a dif- 
ferent conceptual framework, and I believe that the extreme right 
wing provides a pre-eminent example of such behavior. 

However, it now seems doubtful that the term "status politics/' 
which apparently was used for the first time in this essay, is an 
adequate term for what I had in mind. No doubt, social status is one 
of the things that is at stake in most political behavior, and here 
the right wing is no exception. But there are other matters involved, 
which I rather loosely assimilated to this term, that can easily be 
distinguished from status, strictly defined. The term "status" requires 
supplementation. If we were to speak of "cijJtt^ we might 

supply part of what is missing. In our political life there have al- 
ways been certain types of cultural issues, questions of faith and 
morals, tone and style, freedom and coercion, which become fight- 
ing issues. To choose but one example, prohibition was an issue of 

Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited: A Postscript 1962 83 

this kind during the twenties and early thirties. In the struggle over 
prohibition, economic interests played only the most marginal role; 
the issue mobilized religious and moral convictions, ethnic habits 
and hostilities, attitudes toward health and sexuality, and other per- 
sonal preoccupations. There are always such issues at work in any 
body politic, but perhaps they are particularly acute and important 
in the United States because of our ethnic and religious heterogeneity. 
As I indicated in my essay, they loom larger during periods of 
prosperity, when economic conflicts are somewhat muted, than they 
do during periods of depression and economic discontent. 
mobiiyize^ econor^ ^ 

for jflie, j&xgression of its mor^ IMTOQUS ,hostilities. 

But this brings us to another aspect of the matter: at times 
politics becomes an arena into which the wildest fancies are pro- 
jected, the most paranoid suspicions, the most absurd superstitions, 
the most bizarre apocalyptic fantasies. From time to time, move- 
ments arise that are founded upon the political exploitation of such 
fancies and fears, and while these movements can hardly aspire to 
animate more than a small minority of the population, they do 
exercise, especially in a democratic and populistically oriented po- 
litical culture like our own, a certain leverage upon practical politics. 
Thus, today, despite the presence of issues of the utmost gravity 
and urgency, the American press and public have been impelled to 
discuss in all seriousness a right-wing movement whose leaders be- 
lieve that President Eisenhower was a member of the "Communist 
conspiracy. It seems hardly extravagant to say that the true believers 
in a movement of this sort project into the arena of politics utterly 
irrelevant fantasies and disorders of a purely personal kind. Fol- 
lowers of i a x _movement like Jh^Jote^Bji;^ Society are in our world 
but not exactly of it. They intersect with it, they even have effects 
on it that could become grave, but the3Sgpage they speak js a 
private language; they can compel the, rest of u$ to, listen to this 
language because they are just numerous enough, and because, the 
structure of political influence is loose enough for them to apply a 
political leverage out of proportion to their numbers. They represent 
a kind of politics that is not exactly status politics or cultural pol- 
itics, as I have defined them, but that might be called "pjojectiye 
golitics. 5 ' It involves the 1 jroje^^,mtet^^. emd,, concerns, not 
only largely private'but essentially pathplogiQaU ipfo the public scene. 

In action, of course, considerations of status and cultural role be- 

84 The Radical Right 

come intertwined with the content of projective politics, and what 
may be well worth making as an analytical distinction is not neces- 
sarily so clear in the actual world of political controversy. One of 
the reasons why the term "status" now seems to me to be inade- 
quate to suggest the full complex of realities that I had in mind is 
that several considerations are woven together in an unusually com- 
plex social fabric. One thing that has been at stake is the problem 
of an American identity, which has an especial poignance because of 
the heavy immigrant composition of our population and its great 
mobility. Many Americans still have problems about their American- 
ness and are still trying, psychologically speaking, to naturalize them- 
selves. Ethnicity is in itself partly a status problem because American 
life does contain a status hierarchy in which ethnic background is 
important. Finally, because of the great mixture of religions and 
moral strains in our population, there is a constant argument over 
the social legitimacy of certain roles and values. 

One of the facets of my own essay which I am disposed to regret 
is its excessive emphasis on what might be called the clinical side 
of the problem. Whether or not the psychological imputations it 
makes prove to be correct or not, I think a good deal more might 
have been said on purely behavioral and historical grounds to estab- 
lish the destructive and "radical" character of pseudo-conservatism. 
The political character of this movement can be helpfully delineated 
by comparing it with true conservatism. The United States has not 
provided a receptive home for formal conservative thought or clas- 
sically conservative modes of behavior. Lacking a formidable aris- 
tocratic tradition, this country has produced at best patricians rather 
than aristocrats, and the literature of American political experience 
shows how unhappy the patricians (for example, Henry Adams) 
have been in their American environment. Restless, mobile both 
geographically and socially, overwhelmingly middle-class in their 
aspirations, the American people have not given their loyalty to a 
national church or developed a traditionally oriented bar or clergy, 
or other institutions that have the character of national establish- 
ments. But it is revealing to observe the attitude of the extreme right 
wing toward those institutions that come closest here to reproducing 
the institutional apparatus of the aristocratic classes in other coun- 
tries. Such conservative institutions as the better preparatory schools, 
the Ivy League colleges and universities, the Supreme Court, and 
the State Department exactly fhose institutions that have been 

Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited: A Postscript 1962 85 

largely In the custodianship of the patrician or established elements 
in American society have been the favorite objects of right-wing 


be called caasgrvj^$r-a type represented by men like Dean Ache- 
^* j gj*pjj ster D u ii eSj Adlai Stevenson, and Harry L. Stimson 
it akoj^ the , practical s cp^^^ 

our time, as represented by the Eisenhower administration and by 
the eastern Dewey-Willkie-Eisenhower wing of the Republican Party. 
The Chicago Tribune expressed the dominant right-wing view some 
years ago when it lumped together "the nationalist, the Demi-Reps, 
the Truman Republicans, and the New Dealers, who . . . played 
footie-footie with the Communist for years." When the Democrats 
were finally ousted in the election of 1952, nothing less than a com- 
plete bouleversement in government would have satisfied the ex- 
treme right. Most of them were already highly suspicious of Eisen- 
hower, and they felt they were justified when Ms administration 
neither uprooted the welfare reforms of the previous -twenty years 
nor reversed the general strategy of American foreign policy. As 
the Chicago Tribune said of Eisenhower's 1955 State of the Union 
message, "Welfare statism and a tender if meddlesome solicitude 
for every fancied want of a once self-reliant citizenry were pyramided 
and compounded in this message." 

Perhaps what is more to the point though it is conjecture and 
not history is that if Robert A. Taft had been nominated and elected 
in 1952, his administration might have been almost as disappointing 
to the hard core of the extreme right as Eisenhower's. (The extreme 
right really suffers not from the policies of this or that administra- 
tion, but from what America has become in the twentieth century, 
It suffers, moreover, from an implacable dislike and suspicion of 
all constituted authority. In part this is because, entertaining ex- 
pectations that cannot be realized, it is bound to be dissatisfied 
with any regime, But still more decisive, in my opinion, is that the 
extreme right wing is constituted out of a public that simply can- 
not arrive at a psychological modus vivendi with authority, cannot 
reconcile itself to that combination of acceptance and criticism which 
the democratic process requires of the relationship between the lead- 
ers and the led. Being uncomfortable with the thought of my 
leadership that falls short of perfection, the extreme right is also 
incapable of analyzing the world with enough common sense tc 

86 The Radical Right 

establish any adequate and realistic criterion for leadership. The 
right wing tolerates no compromises, accepts no half measures, under- 
stands no defeats. In this respect, it stands psychologically outside 
the frame of normal democratic politics, which is largely an affair of 
compromise. One of the most fundamental qualities, then, in the 
right-wing mentality of our time is its implicit utopianism. I can think 
of no more economical way of expressing its fundamental difference 
from the spirit of genuine conservatism./ 

If this essay were to be rewritten today, there is one force in 
American life, hardly more than hinted at in my original formula- 
tion, that would now loom very large indeed, and that is funda- 
mentalism. The little that we know from the press about the John 
Birch Society, the Christian Crusade of Dr. Fred Schwarz, and the 
activities of the Reverend Billy Hargis has served to remind us how 
much alive fundamentalism still is in the United States, and how 
firmly it has now fixed its attention on the fight against Communism, 
as it once concentrated on the fight against evolution. To under- 
stand the Manichaean style of thought, the apocalyptic tendencies, 
the love of mystification, the intolerance of compromise that are ob- 
servable in the right-wing mind, we need to understand the history 
of fundamentalism as well as the contributions of depth psychology; 
and those who would understand it will do well to supplement their 
acquaintance with Rohrschach techniques or the construction of the 
F-scale with a rereading of the Book of Revelations. To the three 
sources of right-wing sentiment that are commonly enumerated 
isolationism (or anti-Europeanism) , ethnic prejudice, and old-fash- 
ioned "liberal" economics one must add the fundamentalist revolt 
against modernity, and not by any means as a minor partner. 


The Intellectuals 

and the Discontented Classes 




IN THE nineteen-thirties, Maury Maverick, who died in 1954, 
was a quite exceptional but far from untypical representative of the 
Texas political outlook: free-swinging, red-tape cutting, "a man's a 
man for a' that." Born to a famous Texas name which had entered 
the common speech, he enjoyed living up to it by defending the 
downtrodden: the Spanish-Americans of San Antonio; the small 
businessmen; and, most courageously, the Communists and their 
right to be heard in the municipal auditorium. In the Maverick 
era, Texas was reputed to be the most interventionist state in the 
Union, providing some of the firmest support to Roosevelf s foreign 
policy. Its influential Congressional delegation, which included Sam 
Rayburn as well as Senator Tom ConnaUy and a less cautious Lyn- 
don Johnson, were Roosevelt's stalwarts as often in domestic as in 
foreign policy. But not many years later Maverick had turned into a 
political untouchable, and Texas competed with the North Central 
isolationist belt in violent opposition to the old Roosevelt policies no 
less than to the policies of Truman, his successor and legitimate heir. 
Texas demonstrates in extreme form the great shift in the character 
of American politics and political thinking since the Second World 
War. We can date the change more precisely than that. In the elec- 
tion of 1948, Harry Truman, more unequivocally and guilelessly 
committed to many New Deal policies and attitudes than F.D.R., 
won an election against a candidate far more liberal and capable, if 

88 The Radical Right 

less appealingly homespun, than Eisenhower. Even as late as the 
beginning of 1950, the special political tone of the Roosevelt era 
continued to influence public life. We need only recall the mood of 
the Democratic Senators investigating McCarthy's charges of Com- 
munist infiltration into the State Department early that year. The 
transcript shows them at ease, laughing away McCarthy's charges, 
taking it for granted that the country was with them, and that Mc- 
Carthy was another Martin Dies. Four years later, another group of 
Democratic Senators sat in judgment on McCarthy. They were tense 
and anxious, seeking the protective cover of J. Edgar Hoover, 
trying to seem just as good Communist-hunters indeed, better .Re- 
publicans than any of their colleagues. In the last years of Tru- 
man's term, while many demagogic anti-Communist steps were taken 
by a reluctant administration as well as many effective ones under 
Acheson's bedeviled auspices the general climate of Washington 
still remained comparatively easygoing. Congress was a partially 
manageable menace and General Vaughan still could get along with- 
out knowing the difference between Harry Dexter White and Adolf 

Many explanations have been offered for what appears to be a 
decisive shift in the American mentality. Fear of the Soviet Union 
is alleged by some to be the cause; others blame McCarthy, his allies, 
and his victims; others look for cynical explanations, while still others 
think that Americans have abandoned liberal traditions for good 
and all. In this essay we attempt to estimate the real extent of 
the shift, to delineate some factors, previously neglected, which may 
be relevant, and to offer some very tentative interpretations pointing 
toward the revival of a liberal political imagination. 

Detectable and decisive shifts of political mood can occur, of 
course, without affecting the majority. And this seems to be what 
has happened in this country. The less educated part of the popula- 
tion takes a long time learning to form an opinion about any in- 
ternational matter and even more time to change it. It is not easily 
accessible to new information and is not trained to alter its opinions 
under exposure to the public interpretation of events. 1 Thus, the 
World War II alliance with the Soviet Union did little to change the 
suspicion and distrust with which (apart from sheer apathy) the 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 7955 89 

poor and less educated in this country have always regarded Russia 
indeed, all foreign countries; these people were "protected" by 
their fatalism, generalized suspiciousness, and apathy from the war- 
time messages of the movies, the OWI, and like agencies. Conse- 
quently, the worsening of relations with the Soviet Union found the 
"backward" strata already holding the appropriate attitudes toward 
Russia no change was demanded of them, and little change oc- 

The less educated of whom we speak are of course literate; they 
have radios and TV and buy newspapers; and to an Asiatic they 
must appear to move with fabulous speed. Certainly, in non-political 
matters (where the "voter" has at hand the ready mechanism of a 
retail store) fashions spread with ever faster waves, and the "back- 
ward" buy "modern" in furniture long before they will buy it in elec- 
tions. Yet it is the educated, the readers of editorial pages, who have 
customarily been responsible for the major changes in American 
political position. For example, the shift of this group from neutrality 
to intervention in 1940 and 1941 allowed the Lend Lease Act to slip 
through. It also supplied the cadre under Averell Harriman which 
then energetically did the actual "lending." 

The odd situation today, however, is that such a change does not 
suffice to explain what happened between 1950 and 1952. Many of 
the intelligent (i.e., college-educated) and articulate minority still in 
the main are not unsympathetic to Roosevelt's and Truman's foreign 
policies. They believe that the alliances with Britain and France 
must be maintained; they do not regard Communist infiltration as a 
serious problem; they do regard the threat to civil liberties by Com- 
munist hunters as a serious problem. If they do not always say so, 
this is partly for protective coloration, partly because, as we shall see, 
they have been put on the defensive not only strategically but also 
within themselves. (There are of course others of the college-edu- 
cated who have always hated Truman and Roosevelt, largely for 
domestic "that man" reasons; they are not averse to using foreign 
policy as a heaven-sent means of vindication.) 

As we have seen, the shift has not been among the inarticulate 
they have always held their present attitudes. The decisive factors, 
we suggest, have been twofold, and interconnected. On the one 
hand, the opinion leaders among the educated strata the intellec- 
tuals and those who take cues from them have been silenced, 
rather more by their own feelings of inadequacy and failure than by 

90 The Radical Right 

direct intimidation. On the other hand, many who were once among 
the inarticulate masses are no longer silent: an unacknowledged so- 
cial revolution has transformed their situation. Rejecting the liberal 
intellectuals as guides, they have echoed and reinforced the stri- 
dency of rigjit-wing demi-intellectuals themselves often arising 
from those we shall, until we can find a less clumsy name, call the 


During the New Deal days a group of intellectuals led and played 
lawyer for classes of discontented people who had tasted prosperity 
and lost it, and for a mass of underprivileged people who had been 
promised prosperity and seen enough mobility around them to be- 
lieve in it. Today, both sources of discontent have virtually 
disappeared as a result of fifteen years of prosperity. 2 This same 
prosperity, and its attendant inflation, has hit many elderly and 
retired people who cannot adjust financially, politically, or psycho- 
logically to the altered value of a dollar people, who, though they 
have the money, cannot bring themselves to repair their homes be- 
cause they have not been brought up to "do it yourself" nor to pay 
'three dollars an hour to someone else for doing it. Among the youth, 
too, are many people who are at once the beneficiaries and the 
victims of prosperity, people made ill-at-ease by an affluence not 
preceded by imagining its reality, nor preceded by a change to a 
character-structure more attuned to amenity than to hardship. The 
raw-rich Texas millionaire appears often to be obsessed by fears 
that "they" will take his money away almost as if he were fasci- 
nated by a fatality which would bring him, as it were, back to 

These people, whether suddenly affluent or simply better off, form 
a new middle class, called out of the city tenements and the marginal 
small towns by the uneven hand of national prosperity; many have 
moved to the fringes of urban centers, large and small. This has been 
described in Fortune as a new middle-class market, which will play 
a great role in keeping the economy prosperous. But in politics, 
these former masses do not have so benign an influence we shall 
call them the discontented classes. 

Their discontent is only partially rooted in relative economic dep- 
rivation. Many of them, it is true, forgetting their condition of fifteen 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 91 

years ago, see only that the salaries and income they would once 
have thought princely do not add up to much. Politically, such peo- 
ple, thinking in terms of a relatively fixed income (in this case, of 
course, not from capital, save occasional rentals, but from salaries 
and wages) against a standard of variable expenses, are generally 
conservative. And their conservatism is of a pinched and narrow 
sort, less interested in the preservation of ancient principles than in 
the current reduction of government expenditures and taxes. It is the 
conservatism we usually associate with provincial France rather than 
with the small-town venture capitalist of the older Yankee sort. 
This conservatism helps create the particular posture of the dis- 
contented classes vis-a-vis America's foreign role; they are mad at 
the rest of the world for bothering them, hate to waste money in 
spankings and cannot stand wasting money in rewards. 

But more significant, and more difficult to understand and grapple 
with, is a discontent which arises from the mental discomforts that 
come with belonging to a class rather than a mass discomforts 
founded less on economic than on intellectual uncertainty. If one be- 
longs to the middle class one is supposed to have an opinion, to cope 
with the world as well as with one's job and immediate surroundings. 
But these new members have entered a realm where the interpreta- 
tions of the world put forth by intellectuals in recent decades, and 
widely held among the educated, are unsatisfying, even threatening. 
Having precariously won respectability in paycheck and consump- 
tion style, they find this achievement menaced by a political and 
more broadly cultural outlook tending to lower barriers of any sort 
between this nation and other nations, between groups in this na- 
tion (as in the constant appeals to inter-ethnic amity), between 
housing projects reserved for Negroes and suburbs reserved for whites; 
many families also cannot stand the pressure to lower barriers between 
men and women, or between parents and children. 

When this barrier-destroying outlook of the intellectuals promised 
economic advance as well as racial equality, many of the impover- 
ished could accept the former and ignore the latter. Now, having 
achieved a modicum of prosperity, the political philosophy of the 
intellectuals, which always requires government spending, taxes, and 
inflation, is a threat and the racial equality, which could be viewed 
with indifference in the city tenement or homogeneous small town, is 
a formidable reality in the new suburbs. When the intellectuals were 
developing the ideology justifying cutting in the masses on the boun- 

92 The Radical Right 

ties of American productivity, they were less apt to be called do- 
gooders and bleeding hearts the grown-up version of that unen- 
durable taunt of being a sissy than now when the greater part of 
the masses needing help are outside the nation's boundaries. 3 

Very often, moreover, the individuals making up the discontented 
classes have come, not to the large civilizing cities, but to the new or 
expanding industrial frontiers to Wichita and Rock Island, to Jack- 
sonville or the Gulf Coast, to Houston or San Diego, to Tacoma or 
Tonawanda. Even those who become very rich no longer head auto- 
matically for New York and Newport, Whereas the Baptist Rockefel- 
ler, coming from Cleveland where he was educated, allowed East- 
erners to help civilize him by giving away his money, as Carnegie 
and Frick also did, these new rich lack such centralized opportunities 
for gratuitous benevolence, being constrained by the income tax and 
the institutionalization of philanthropy. And their wives (whatever 
their secret and suppressed yearnings) no longer seem to want the 
approval of Eastern women of culture and fashion; they choose to re- 
main within their provincial orbits, rather than to become immigrants 
to an alien cosmopolitan center. Indeed, the airplane has made it 
possible for the men and Vogue and Neiman-Marcus for the 
women to share in the advantages of New York without the mis- 
eries, expenses, and contaminations of living there. Howard Hughes, 
for example, can do business operating from a plane, yacht, or hotel 

All this, however, puts some complex processes too simply. New 
big money in America has always tended to unsettle its possessors 
and the society at large. For one thing, the absence of an aristocracy 
means that there is no single, time-approved course of buying land, 
being deferential to the values of those already on the land, and earn- 
ing a title by good behavior. Though Rockefeller tried philanthropy, 
he was still hated, still needed the services of Ivy Lee. Yet he lived 
at a time when the aristocratic model, in Europe if not here, provided 
certain guide-posts. Today, the enormously wealthy new men of 
Texas have not even the promise of an assured well-traveled road, 
at the end of which stand duchesses, Newport, and gatekeepers like 
Ward McAllister. Instead, such men may prefer to buy a television 
program for McCarthy, or to acquire the publishing firm of Henry 
Holt, or, on behalf of an anti-Wall Street business demagogue, the 
very railroad which once helped cement New York "Society." 

Moreover, the partial and uneven spread of cosmopolitan values 
to the lower strata and to the hinterland has as one consequence the 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 7955 93 

fact that rich men can no longer simply spend thek way to salva- 
tion. Conspicuous underconsumption has replaced conspicuous con- 
sumption as the visible sign of status, with the result that men who 
have made enough money to indulge the gaudy dreams of their un- 
derprivileged youth learn all too fast that they must not be flamboy- 
ant. This is a trick that the older centers of culture have played on 
the newer centers of wealth. The latter can try to catch up; Baylor 
and Houston Universities, and -the Dallas Symphony, have not done 
too badly. Or they can enter the still gaudy forum of politics to get 
back at those they suspect of ridiculing their efforts. Perhaps there 
was something of this in Hearst, as there is in some of the newer 
magnates of the media. Senator McCarthy, with Ms gruff charm and 
his Populist roots, seems made to order for such men; and he has 
attracted some of the political plungers among the new underprivi- 
leged rich, 4 a task made easier by the fact that they have too few 
intellectuals and idea men to divide and distract them. 

Furthermore, a great many Americans, newly risen from poverty 
or the catastrophe of the Depression, are much more fearful of losing 
their wealth than are scions of more established families already ac- 
customed to paying taxes, to giving to charity, and to the practice 
of noblesse oblige. We know many men who made thek money in 
war orders, or through buying government-financed plants, or 
through price supports, who hate the federal government with the 
ferocity of beneficiaries and doubtless want to cut off aid from the 
ungrateful French or British! Such men cannot admit that they did 
not make "thek" money by their own efforts; they would like to 
abolish the income tax, and with it the whole nexus of defense and 
international relations, if only to assert thek own anachronistic in- 
dividualism the more firmly. They are likely to be clients, not only 
of lawyers who specialize in the capital gains tax, but also of prophets 
and politicians specializing in the bogeys of adults. 

The rapid and unanticipated acquisition of power seems to pro- 
duce a sense of unreality people are "up in the air." We face the 
paradox that many Americans are more fearful today though 
more prosperous than ever before and though America is in some 
ways more powerful. 


It is the professional business of politicians, as of other promoters 
and organizers, to find in the electorate or other constituency organ- 

94 The Radical Right 

izable blocs who will shift their allegiance to them, who will respond 
with passion in the midst of indifference, and with identification in 
the midst of diffuse and plural ties. In the pre-World War I days of 
the great outcry against the Trusts, it was possible to find a few old 
and dislocated middle-class elements which resented the new domi- 
nance by big and baronial business in some respects, these were 
precursors of the present discontented classes, though with more to 
hope for and less to fear. In the thirties, the way had already in large 
measure been prepared for an appeal to unemployed factory workers 
and Southern and Western farmers on the basis of Wilsonian and 
Populist rhetoric, made into a heady brew by more recent infusions 
of radicalism, native and imported. These discontented masses 
showed in their voting behavior (in NLRB and Agricultural Adjust- 
ment Act elections as well as at the polls) that the appeal, whatever 
it meant to those who made it, hit home in terms of the listeners' 
wants and situation. 

How can the discontented classes of today be welded into a politi- 
cal bloc? This is the question that haunts and tempts politicians. The 
uncertainty of the Democrats faced with Stevenson and of the Re- 
publicans faced with McCarthy signifies not only disagreements of 
principle but also doubts as to whether a proper appeal has as yet 
been found on which a ruling or controlling coalition can be built. 
As geologists cover the earth prospecting for oil, so politicians cover 
the electorate prospecting for hidden hatreds and identities. 

In local elections campaigns can be waged on the promise to hold 
down taxes and build no more schools. And many people in national 
affairs will respond to a promise to hold down inflation or to create 
more jobs. But when voters feel insecure in the midst of prosperity, 
it is not an economic appeal that will really arouse them. For it is 
not the jobs or goods they do not have that worry them; indeed, what 
worries them is often that they do not know what worries them, or 
why, having reached the promised land, they still suffer. Sharply 
felt needs have been replaced by vague discontents; and at such a 
time programs or clear-cut ideas of any kind are worse than useless, 
politically speaking. This is one reason why the appeal to the 
discontented classes is so often more a matter of tone than of sub- 
stance why a gesture of retroactive vindictiveness like the Bricker 
Amendment can arouse angry Minute Women and small-town lawyers, 
why on the whole the pseudo-conservative right has so small a pro- 
gram and so belligerent a stance. In this situation, ideology tends to 
become more important than economics. 5 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1P55 95 

And when one must resort to ideology in a prosperous America, 
one must fall back on the vaguely recalled, half-dreamlike alle- 
giances and prejudices serving most people for ideology. American- 
ism, of course, will play a major role; but, paradoxically enough, 
so do those underground half-conscious ethnic allegiances and preju- 
dices which, as Samuel Lubeli has shown, still play a large part in 
American politics. In much that passes for anti-Communism these 
strands are combined, as for instance for many Irish or Polish Cath- 
olics whose avid anti-Communism enables them to feel more solidly 
American than some less fanatical Protestants who, as earlier ar- 
rivals, once looked down on them; similarly, a good deal of Mc- 
Carthy's support represents the comeback of the German-Ameri- 
cans after two world wars. A haunting doubt about Americanism 
and disloyalty, however, affects not only those of recent enemy or 
socially devalued stocks but also those many businessmen forced to 
operate under government regulations of price and materials con- 
trol, or under defense contracts. As Talcott Parsons has observed 
(see Chapter 9), these men are constantly being asked, on grounds 
of patriotism, to obey government norms which they are as con- 
stantly opposing and evading; for them it is convenient to discover 
that it is not they who are ambivalent toward defense, but those 
others, the Reds or the State Department or the Democrats. Many of 
these men, especially perhaps in small business, are victims of a 
prosperity which has made them rich but neither as enlightened as 
many big business managers nor as independent as their ideology 
expects them to be. 

Not all members of the discontented classes come from similar 
backgrounds or arrive at similar destinations; nevertheless, mobility 
a fast rise from humble origins, or a transplantation to the city, or 
a move from the factory class to the white-collar class is a general 
characteristic. They or their parents are likely to have voted Demo- 
cratic sometime between 1930 and 1948, and such a memory 
makes them more susceptible to ideological appeals, for in rising 
above their impoverished or ethnically "un-American" beginnings, 
they have found it "time for a change" in identification: they would 
like to rise "above" economic appeals ("don't let them take it away") 
to ideological ones or, in more amiable terms, "above" self-interest 
to patriotism. Such people could not be brought in one move into the 
Republican Party, which would seem too much like a betrayal of 
origins, but they could be brought to take a stand "above party" 

96 The Radical Right 

and to vote for a non-partisan general whom the Democrats had also 
sought. According to a recent study reported by Professor Malcolm 
Moos, in two counties outside Boston the self-declared "independ- 
ent" voters now outnumber the Republicans and Democrats com- 
bined a reflection of this roving background of discontented classes 

which has become the most dynamic force in American political life. 6 
Recently, a woman who had campaigned for Eisenhower (while her 
husband voted for Stevenson) told one of us how much she admired 
Ike's sincerity, adding, "Actually I don't know enough about politics 
to identify myself with either one [major party], and I am a what 
do you call it an independent." Of course, not all independents 
stand in this sort of proud ignorance above parties and above the 
politicians who may have helped their parents with jobs or visas or 
the warmth of recognition. 

Just as many among the newly prosperous tend at present to re- 
ject the traditional party labels (while others seek, perhaps after a 
split ticket or two, the protective coloration of the GOP), so they 
also reject the traditional cultural and educational leadership of the 
enlightened upper and upper-middle classes. They have sent their 
children to college as one way of maintaining the family's social and 
occupational mobility. Some of these children have become eager 
strivers for cosmopolitanism and culture, rejecting the values now 
held by the discontented classes. But many of those who have 
swamped the colleges have acquired there, and helped their families 
learn, a half-educated resentment for the traditional intellectual 
values some of their teachers and schoolmates represented. While 
their humbler parents may have maintained in many cases a certain 
reverence for education, their children have gained enough familiar- 
ity to feel contempt. (Tragically, the high schools and colleges have 
often felt compelled at the same time to lower their standards to 
meet the still lower level of aspiration of these youngsters, no eager 
beavers for learning, but too well off to enter the labor force.) In 
many local school board fights, the old conservative and hence in- 
tellectually libertarian elites have been routed by lower-middle-class 
pressure groups who, often to their surprise, discovered the weakness 
of the schools and their defenders in many of these fights, much as 
on the national scene, ethnic elements helped identify the combat- 
ants. Once having seen the political weakness, combined with social 
prestige, of the traditional cultural values, the discontented classes, 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 97 

trained to despise weakness, became still less impressed by the intel- 
lectual cadres furnisHng much of the leadership in the Thirties. 

The high school and college training has had a further effect of 
strengthening the desire of the graduates to take some part in politi- 
cal life, at least by voting: we know that non-voting and non-partici- 
pation generally is far more common among the uneducated. Even 
more, it has strengthened their need for an intellectual position to 
give a name, an identity, to their malaise. Whatever they think of in- 
tellectuals as such, they cannot do without them, and sustenance re- 
jected in the form of the adult education work of the Ford Founda- 
tion is sought or accepted from mentors like Hunt's Facts Forum 
whose tone reflects their own uneasiness and yet gives it a factual, 
"scientific" cast. Thus they repay their "education for citizenship." 

We have spoken earlier of the xenophobia and slowness in alter- 
ing opinions characteristic of the lower classes. If in a survey people 
are asked, "Do you think it wise to trust others?" the less educated 
are always the more suspicious; they have in the course of life gained 
a peasant-like guile, the sort of sloganized cynicism so beautifully 
described by Richard Wright in Black Boy. In a hierarchical soci- 
ety, this distrust does not become a dynamic social and political fac- 
tor; except insofar as it prevents the organization of the masses it 
remains a problem only for individuals in their relations with other 
individuals. But when the mistrustful, with prosperity, are suddenly 
pushed into positions of leverage, attitudes previously channeled 
within the family and neighborhood are projected upon the national 
and international scene. 

Recent psychoanalytically-oriented work on ethnic prejudice pro- 
vides possible clues as to why overt anti-Semitism has declined at 
the same time that attacks on Harvard and other symbols of Eastern 
seaboard culture seem to have increased. In their valuable book, 
The Dynamics of Prejudice, Bruno Bettelheim and Morris Janowitz 
make the point that in America Jews and Negroes divide between 
them the hostilities which spring from internal conflict: The super- 
ego is involved in anti-Semitism, since the Jew is felt to represent 
the valued but unachieved goals of ambition, money, and group 
loyalty ("clannishness"), whereas fear and hatred of the Negro 
spring from id tendencies which the individual cannot manage, Ms 
repressed desires for promiscuity, destruction of property, and gen- 
eral looseness of living. (In Europe, the Jews must do double duty, as 
the outlet for both id and super-ego dynamisms.) Today, on the one 

98 The Radical Right 

hand, the increasing sexual emancipation of Americans has made the 
Negro a less fearsome image in terms of sexuality (though he re- 
mains a realistic threat to neighborhood real estate and communal 
values) and, on the other hand, prosperity has meant that the Jew 
is no longer a salient emblem of enviable financial success. Thus, 
while the KKK declines the former "racial" bigot finds a new threat: 
the older educated classes of the East, with their culture and refine- 
ment, with "softness" and other amenities he does not yet feel able 
to afford. 7 

Furthermore, the sexual emancipation which has made the Negro 
less of a feared and admired symbol of potency has presented men 
with a much more difficult problem: the fear of homosexuality. In- 
deed, homosexuality becomes a much more feared enemy than the 
Negro. (It may also be that homosexuality is itself spreading or news 
of it is spreading, so that people are presented with an issue which 
formerly was kept under cover another consequence of enlighten- 
ment.) How powerful, then, is the political consequence of combin- 
ing the image of the homosexual with the image of the intellectual 
the State Department cooky-pusher Harvard-trained sissy thus 
becomes the focus of social hatred and the Jew becomes merely one 
variant of the intellectual sissy actually less important than the 
Eastern-educated snob! Many people say of McCarthy that they ap- 
prove of his ends but not of his methods. We think this statement 
should be reversed to read that they approve of his methods, which 
are so obviously not sissified, but care little about his ends, which are 
irrelevant provided that the targets are drawn with the foregoing con- 
stellation in mind, 

As a result of all this, the left-wing and liberal intellectuals, who 
came forward during the New Deal and who played so effective a 
role in the fight against Nazism and in "prematurely" delineating 
the nature of the Communist as an enemy, today find themselves 
without an audience, their tone deprecated, their slogans ineffectual. 


Apart from this central social change, much has happened to re- 
duce the intellectuals to a silence only temporarily broken by such a 
clamor as that over McCarthy. 

For one thing, the success of the New Deal has silenced them. The 
New Deal as a triumphant movement at once of the "folk," liberal 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 99 

government officials, and the intellectuals, came to an end in 1937. 
By this time the major reforms, such as the NLRB and Social Secu- 
rity, had already been institutionalized, and many of the remaining 
unspent energies of the movement were dissipated in the Court- 
packing fight nominally waged to preserve the reforms. After this, 
the crusading spirit could only work on modifications and defenses of 
an extant structure (for instance, the last major New Deal bill, the 
Wages and Hours Act of 1938). This vacuum of goals was con- 
cealed by affairs in Europe; Fascism in Spain and Germany, and its 
repercussions in this country, absorbed many New Dealers, the in- 
tellectuals, and their allies among the cultivated, and provided them 
with an agenda. But it was assumed that, once the war was over, the 
New Dealers and their allies could return to the unending problem 
of controlling the business cycle and reforming the economy. The 
business cycle, however, refused to turn down, or did not turn down 
very far. The one postwar victory based on something like the old 
New Deal approach and coalition that of 1948 owed more to 
the anger of well-to-do farmers at the sag in agricultural prices than 
it did to the self-interested voting of the city workers. Had the de- 
pression come, the alliance forged by Roosevelt might have emerged 
unimpaired from the wartime National Unity front. But it turned 
out to be "too easy" to control the business cycle: Keynesianism was 
no longer esoteric knowledge but the normal working doctrine of 
administrators, liberal or conservative, and even the Republicans, 
as was demonstrated in 1953-54, could keep a down-turn in the busi- 
ness cycle under control. 

What was left on the home front? One could raise the floor under 
wages, but in a time of prosperity and inflation that could not excite 
many beyond those, like the Textile Workers Union, who spoke for 
the worst-paid workers. One could press for socialized medicine, but 
this had little of the force of the old New Deal campaigns. One 
could denounce Wall Street and the interests, but it looked old- 
fashioned, and more, it divided the liberal intellectuals from those 
who, on the issues that still counted, were natural allies. For Wall 
Street was closer to the liberal intellectuals on the two domestic 
issues that were still alive civil rights and civil liberties and on the 
whole range of issues related to foreign policy than were the former 
allies of the liberal intellectuals, the farmers and the lower classes of 
the city, both in their old form as factory workers and in their new 
form as white-collar workers. 

100 The Radical Right 

Indeed, what has happened is that the old issues died, and on the 
new issues former friends or allies have become enemies, and former 
enemies have become friends. Thus: the liberal intellectuals have 
had to switch their attitudes toward Wall Street as symbolizing 
both the great financiers and the giant corporations they organize 
and toward "small business." By 1940, one could no longer speak 
of Wall Street as "the enemy/' Demographic shifts and the Depres- 
sion, along with the increasing ability of industry to finance expan- 
sion from reserves, had already weakened the hegemony of Eastern 
capital. The New Deal, by rhetoric and by such legislation as the 
SEC and the Holding Company Act, weakened it further, in com- 
parison with the growing power of mid-continent businessmen (not 
to speak of tax-privileged oil and gas men). And the war had the 
same effect, for the small businessmen and tougher big businessmen 
of the Midwest paid less taxes and less attention to OPA and WPB. 
Wall Street lawyers Stimson and McCloy (perhaps Wendell Willkie 
might be added), Wall Street bankers Forrestal, Lovett, and Har- 
riman, all have had a far greater cosmopolitanism and tolerance for 
intellectuals than do, for example, the big and little car dealers and 
other "small businessmen" of the Eisenhower administration. 8 In 
general, Wall Streeters, like the British Tories, are a chastened lot 
and an easy symbol of abuse for pastoral and Populist simplifica- 
tions. But, while Harry Hopkins and Tommy Corcoran recruited 
such men for Roosevelt, many New Dealers and their journalist and 
intellectual supporters resented their entrance. 

They also resented the military, who were frequently similarly 
chastened men, sensitive to the limits of "free enterprise." The lib- 
eral political imagination in America, with its tendency to consider 
generals and admirals hopeless conservatives, and its tendency to 
consider war an outmoded barbarity that serious thinkers should not 
concern themselves with, was incapable of seeing that military men, 
like Wall Streeters, might be natural allies in the new epoch, and 
that military issues would become at least as important as the domes- 
tic economic issues of the New Deal era. What could be more crucial 
today than the outcome of the struggle between the Strategic Air 
Command and the Army Ground Forces? Yet who concerns himself 
with it? (The self-styled conservatives, being so often isolationists 
with overtones of manifest-destiny jingoism, have been on the whole 
even less well prepared to consider such issues.) 

When the comments on policy of intellectuals and academic peo- 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes- 1955 101 

pie are dated by ignorance, the military man who might be guided 
by thoughtful civilians and there are many such feels the hope- 
lessness of communication; he must, in spite of himself, resort to 
pressure and public relations to defend his service and with it Ms 
country. Aside from a few journalists like the Alsops, several able 
magazine editors, and a handful of academic people like Bernard 
Brodie and the late Edward Mead Earle, only atomic scientists (and 
their occasional sociological counselors such as Edward A. Sfails) 
have made serious efforts to grapple with such factors. 

Today, the Federal defense budget is so large as to leave little 
room for major socio-cultural argument; in Washington, at least, any- 
thing outside of it can be no more than a fringe benefit. As Eliot 
Janeway has pointed out, we are now in a defense cycle rather than 
a business cycle; and Daniel Bell, tracing this out in terms of the 
capital expansion consequences of military commitments, has em- 
phasized how many of the conventional areas of business and social 
decision are foreclosed. If a depression permitting reshaping of po- 
litical thinking is unlikely, so also is a huge surplus the spending of 
which could lead to a healthy controversy outside the warring mili- 
tary services and their highly placed civilian partisans. Everywhere 
we look, then, there is room for change only within a narrow margin, 
if we interpret change in terms traditional among intellectuals. 

At home, indeed, only the cause of racial emancipation remains 
to arouse enthusiasm. And this cause differs politically from the old 
New Deal causes in that it represents for many liberals and intel- 
lectuals a withdrawal from the larger statist concerns it is a cause 
which is carried into personal life and into the field of culture where 
it attracts many reflective young people who appear apathetic to 
civic and electoral politics. By its nature, the field of race is one in 
which everyone can have a hand: institutionalization has not pro- 
ceeded nearly so far as it has with economic underprivilege. Thus, 
every state has some form of social security, but only a few have an 
FEPC; and, as many Americans become more sensitive to inter- 
personal considerations, they feel it imperative to work for the amel- 
ioration of racial slights that would not have troubled an earlier 
generation. But as we have indicated, the demand for tolerance of 
Negroes cannot replace, politically, the demand for "economic 
equality": it is a very great and aggravating demand to make on 
children of white immigrants who are paying off the mortgage on 
their first suburban house. 

102 The Radical Right 


Thus, for liberal intellectuals in the postwar era the home front 
could not be the arena for major policies, mobilizing a majority 
coalition, that it was in the 1930s; the focus had shifted to foreign 
policy. But for this the New Dealers and the intellectuals were gen- 
erally unprepared. In particular, they were not prepared to view the 
Communists and the Soviet Union as the enemy in the way they had 
earlier recognized Fascism as the enemy, and for this failure they 
were to suffer seriously. Not many New Dealers had actually been 
pro-Soviet: the liberal politicians, lawyers, and civil servants had 
little in common with Popular Front writers, who were contemptu- 
ous of reform and addicted to slogans about Marx, the proletariat, 
and the Revolution. Indeed, the New Dealers were almost too ready 
to dismiss both the Stalinists and their left-wing sectarian critics; 
preoccupied with domestic reforms and anti-fascism, they formed no 
clear-cut image of Communism. They did not sympathize with it, let 
alone accept it, but they did not see it as a major enemy. 

Understandably, they could not be as ebullient in carrying on a 
policy in which Communism was the major enemy as they could be 
in attacking depression and the interests. True, they did what was 
necessary: Truman's Point IV program and the Marshall Plan were 
the major postwar achievements of the American political imagina- 
tion. However, these brilliant anti-Communist measures have not 
succeeded in saving the New Dealers from the taint of fellow-travel- 
ing. Moreover, these measures were not able to arouse among in- 
tellectuals, and sensitive young people, very much enthusiasm, even 
in the hearts of those active in administration of the aid program. 
For one thing, with the whole planet sending in distress signals, 
Point IV seems a drop of milk in a rusty Malthusian bucket 
to be defended more for what it symbolizes at home than for its 
often ambiguous blessings (lowered death rates and uncontrollable 
population growth) abroad. For another thing, all these measures of 
international hope and help have been launched and caught up in 
the spirit of cold-war public relations. Thus, no one knows any longer 
whether he supports a program because it is worthwhile and an ex- 
pression of humaneness, or because it is necessary to harry Soviet 
satellites or win over neutralists in Europe and Asia, or because it is 
necessary to appear tough-minded vis-a-vis congressmen and Philis- 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 103 

tines generally. A military "angle" has been discovered in, for in- 
stance, the work of anthropologists seeking to mediate the coming of 
industry to Indonesia. While such practical compromises and dual 
motives are always involved in reform, in this case they have often 
served to confuse the reformers, who deny, even to themselves, that 
they are motivated by anything visionary; hence the intellectual cli- 
mate becomes less and less open to political imagination. 9 

As the hope of solving our foreign problems by indiscriminately 
and rapidly raising the standard of living of the rest of the world 
has waned, the more informed critics of contemporary politics have 
had to fall back on an austerity program a program promising less 
and requiring more: more money, more soldiers, more arms, more 
aid, hence more taxes. All this is required, of course, not for redis- 
tribution within America, though a good deal of this does ensue, but 
to provide a new carrier (it costs as much as a Valley Authority) or 
a radar early-warning defense (as costly as socialized medicine). 
This program divides the intellectuals among themselves many still 
agitate for socialized medicine but divides them still more griev- 
ously from the poor and uneducated for the latter, whatever the 
bellicose consequences of their xenophobia and love of verbal vio- 
lence, always oppose war and sacrifice. 

It is perhaps in reaction to these dilemmas that one new issue 
that of the protection of traditional civil liberties has risen in recent 
years to monopolize almost completely the intellectuals' attention. 
But this, too, is an issue which demands sacrifice from the unedu- 
cated masses not financial sacrifice but the practice of deference 
and restraint which is understood and appreciated only among the 
well-to-do and highly educated strata. 10 Thus, a focus on civil liber- 
ties and on foreign policy tends, as we have seen, to make intel- 
lectuals seek allies among the rich and well-born, rather than among 
the workingmen and farmers they had earlier courted and cared 
about; indeed, it tends to make them conservative, once it becomes 
clear that civil liberties are protected, not by majority vote (which is 
overwhelmingly unsympathetic), but by traditional institutions, class 
prerogatives, and judicial life-tenure. 

At the same time, the protection of civil liberties has had to cope 
with the Communist issue, much as other liberal causes have. The 
Sacco-Vanzetti case united the liberals; the Rosenberg case divided 
them. The great civil liberties cases of the post-Enlightenment era 
were not fought to save the Czar's spies and police from detection 

104 The Radical Right 

and punishment; they were fought for anarchists, for socialists and 
liberals, for professors teaching evolution or economics; and it takes 
either a case-hardened and sometimes disingenuous naivete about 
Communists or a subtle strategic decision about where to draw the 
line to muster much enthusiasm for the defense of intellectuals who 
plead the Fifth Amendment. In this situation, the defense becomes at 
best a rear-guard action, but cannot hope to be a "positive" pro- 
gram a demand on the basis of which political identities can be re- 

Where do the college-bred young stand in all this? In the late 
Thirties they were offered blood, sweat, and tears in the fight against 
Nazism. Some sought and accepted the agenda. But the fight against 
Nazism was made real by its domestic opponents: one saw almost all 
that was despicable anti-Semites, fascists, Europe-haters, the big- 
oted and the crackpot lined up on the pro-Nazi side. Today, the 
pathetic passel of domestic Communists cannot be compared with 
these fascists who organized street gangs or shook down businessmen; 
and many of the Communists' allies are decent, if misguided, "liber- 
als who haven't learned." In international politics, we must accept 
alliances with despots no more savory than our erstwhile domestic 
fascists. Thus, the young are asked to fight international Commu- 
nism not on the basis of street experience but of what they are 
taught. Cool in spirit generally, they can hardly be expected to show 
enthusiasm. Indeed, a holding game against the Communists is a 
reality and a prospect to sober the most enthusiastic. The question 
of appeasement that most thoughtful people could reject offhand in 
the pre-atom-bomb era now becomes more insistent intellectually 
even while it becomes outlawed politically. 

If we leave substance aside, and consider the tone of politics, we 
realize that the loss of initiative by intellectuals is coupled with a 
change of emotional accent. The conservative and ascetic program 
just sketched is not avant-garde; it is dull; there is no hope in it of 
saving the world; it assumes the world is well enough and only wishes 
the Communists thought so too. 

Demands are the basis of politics: the demands of a group or 
class, formulated by its intellectual leaders or, more accurately, 
the demands create and identify the group or class which then is 
led. When a group is either satisfied or exhausted, when for what- 
ever reason it no longer makes demands, then it has lost the elan 
which can attract new forces. It can only hope that the institutions 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 105 

and battalions that have been built up by the vanished elan of the 
past are large enough to withstand the onslaught of those who do 
make new demands. 


It is not only the dilemmas of policy that have been responsible for 
the decline of enthusiasm and vitality among the liberal intellectuals 
in the last decade or so. Another factor is hard to discuss without 
sounding like E. A. Ross, Henry Pratt Fairchild, and other pre- 
World War I opponents of immigration from Eastern and Southern 
Europe; yet it seems evident to us that the American crusading spirit 
has been sustained in considerable measure by the non-conformist 
conscience of New England and its offshoots in the Western Reserve 
and the Far West. 11 As long as the new immigrants looked up to 
this model, they tended to imitate the benign as well as the sharp- 
shooting doctrines and practices of the Yankees, but in a cumulative 
process which is only now reaching its end, the New Englanders 
themselves have run out of confidence and prestige: their land is 
now Vacationland, rather than the source of Abolitionist and other 
gospel; in the home territory, surrounded by Irish, Italians, Poles, 
French Canadians, Portuguese whom they have influenced more 
than either party will admit, they feel defeated and out of control in 
the charter institutions. 12 

This is not the place to trace the complex relations between the 
New England conscience and pragmatic reform. The remaining pos- 
sessors of that conscience are still a national asset, but there are 
fewer of them proportionately; their wealth is smaller proportion- 
ately; and, scattered throughout the country, they are more remote 
from the centers of ideas. New ideas have their headquarters in New 
York. They often originate with, or are mediated by, Jews who have 
more reasons for hesitation and are perhaps psychologically as well 
as sociologically more vulnerable to pressure than the New Eng- 
landers just as the newer media (movies and broadcasting) in 
which they are influential are weaker in the face of censorship than 
the older media (book publishing and the press) in which they 
play less part than the Yankees do. To be sure, there are many af- 
finities between Jews and Puritans both are people of the Book 
and a political and intellectual alliance of the sort that Holmes and 

106 The Radical Right 

Brandeis once typified is still to be found, especially in smaller com- 

On the whole, as Americanization spreads, the old Puritan fami- 
lies have been slowly losing status. Some have responded by ec- 
centricity, leadership, intellectuality, and liberalism; others have 
joined angry "pro-America" movements where, ironically enough 
(save in the DAR), they meet the very Irish or Italian or other 
newer elements who have displaced or jostled them. 13 Since they 
can no longer safely snub these ex-Wops, ex-Shanty Irish, and ex- 
Hunkies, they displace their animus onto the weak targets provided 
by intellectuals, "left-wingers," "one-worlders," and so on. 14 And 
they can blame these latter people for the very social changes that 
have brought the descendants of lowly immigrants into the top coun- 
cils of what was once, hi some areas, the ethnically rather exclusive 
club of the Republican Party. Their blame, moreover, is not entirely 
misplaced, for the New Deal, along with the war, did help bring 
prosperity and mobility and reputability to Catholics and Jews. 

After the war, the recognition of the Communist menace still 
further boosted the status of Catholics by making them almost auto- 
matically charter members of the anti-Communist crusade. By the 
same token, the intellectuals, their limited links with Communism 
continuously and extravagantly exposed, became more vulnerable. 
We believe that Granville Hicks in Where We Came Out presents a 
reasonably just picture of the actual extent of Communist influence 
in the Thirties an influence much less than is now often supposed 
even among intellectuals; indeed, his picture does not take sufficient 
account of the infinitesimal extent of Party effectiveness outside the 
major seaboard cities. The New Dealers, as we have already said, 
were even less affected than the intellectuals, but they shared with 
the latter some personal and journalistic ties; this, plus some dramatic 
cases like those of Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss and the 
belated fellow-traveling of Henry Wallace, made it politically possible 
though fantastic to damn the New Deal as a Communist-front 
organization. This has created a situation obviously quite different 
from that of earlier decades, when though liberal intellectuals and 
New Dealers were also called Communists, they only became as 
a result firmer and angrier. Today such libel is not only a disaster 
for public relations but cause for an anxious inner scrutiny. For 
as it becomes clear that few of the causes liberals have espoused 
have been immune to exploitation by the Communists, the liberal 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 107 

intellectuals lose their former sure conviction about their causes and 
are put, inside as well as out, on the defensive. One evidence of this 
is the strategy of continuous balancing so many of us engage in: if 
one day we defend Negroes (one of the few causes which, though 
taken up by Communists, still gets relatively unambiguous attention 
from intellectuals), then the next day we set the record straight by 
calling for more aid to Indo-China not, let us repeat, merely for 
protective coloration but to make clear to ourselves that we are not 
fools or dupes of fellow-traveler rhetoric. 

The intellectuals themselves are further weakened in their own 
minds, at least by the fact that their ideas, even where relevant to 
contemporary discontent, are quickly taken over by the mass media 
and transmuted into the common stock of middlebrow conceptions. 
They can no longer control, even by intentional opacity, the pace of 
distribution. Thus, what they produce soon becomes dissociated 
from them and their immediate coteries; in the division of labor, the 
middlebrows take over the function of dissemination and translation, 
and this alienation from their "product" leaves the intellectuals, even 
when they may reach a wider audience with more dispatch than ever 
before in history, with a feeling of impotence and isolation. 

And, finally, the self-confidence of the liberal intellectuals is 
weakened by their own egalitarian ideology, which has led them not 
only to attack ethnic and class barriers but to defer to the manners 
and mores of the lower classes generally. Whereas in the days of 
Eastern seaboard hegemony the masses sought to imitate the classes, 
if they sought to rise at all, today imitation is a two-way process, and 
intellectuals are no longer protected by class and elite arrogance 
(and the strategic ignorances arrogance protects) against the at- 
titudes of their enemies. 15 We find, for example, the cynicism of the 
lower strata reflected in the desire of the intellectuals to appear 
tough-minded and in -their fear to be thought naive. Such tough- 
mindedness in turn may then require acceptance of belligerent and 
vindictive attitudes in domestic and foreign affairs, and a further 
weakening of any visionary hopes and motives. 

What the left has lost in tone and initiative, the right has gained. 
The right has believed, ever since "that man" entered the White 
House, in the utter deviltry of the New Deal. But what was once a 
domestic misanthropy has now been writ large upon the globe: the 
right has hit on what it regards as an unquestioned truth, which needs 
only to be spread (the utter sinfulness, the total evil, of the idea of 

108 The Radical Right 

Communism and the total perfection of the idea of Americanism); 
it maintains the zeal of missionaries in propagating this truth; it feels 
today it possesses a newer, better, altogether more avant-garde 
knowledge, even though about so limited a subject as the influence 
of Communists on American culture and politics (look at The Free- 
man and The American Mercury, or at McCarthy and His Enemies 
for illustration). Moreover, 'this new right possesses that convenient 
and perhaps essential feeling of martyrdom which its very presence 
gives to many liberal intellectuals: it sees itself as a minority suffer- 
ing for its desire to enlighten the people (Peter Viereck has referred 
to the "bleeding hearts of the right") - 16 

But the parallel is far from complete. For the left and the liberals 
in their days of influence really wanted something: they had specific 
reforms k mind, and specific legislation. The new right, with its few 
intellectuals trying to create a program for it, wants at best an atmos- 
phere: it really has no desire to change the face of the nation; it is 
much more interested in changing the past, in rewriting the history 
of the New Deal, of the Second World War and its aftermath, or in 
more ambitious efforts, of the whole modern movement. Here again 
the comparison of the new right with the Communists is instructive, 
for the latter, too, in this country have been preoccupied with a state 
of mind: they have aimed, if not to make Americans sympathetic to 
the Soviet Union, at least unsympathetic toward its enemies here and 
overseas* To this end, their greatest efforts have been in rewriting 
recent and current history, in presenting a certain picture of the 
world in which big business, on the one side, supported fascism and 
anti-Semitism, while the Soviet Union, on the other side, fostered 
Negroes, Jews, and other minorities, and defended the working class. 
American domestic politics have been useful to the Communists in 
providing object-lessons for this general theory and in recruiting stal- 
warts for its further propagation. In the same way, one can read or 
listen to the organs of the new right and find nothing that amounts to 
a legislative program: the bills they want passed are those which give 
expression to their feelings about the past, such as the Bricker 
Amendment, 17 or withdrawing Hiss's pension and otherwise harass- 
ing Communists (often in ways that such veteran Communist-hunt- 
ers as Governor Dewey think unjust and unwise) the fight for these 
measures is an educative fight in re-interpreting the past When it 
comes to coping with world Communism, this group has nothing to 
propose in the way of strengthening anti-Communists abroad noth- 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 109 

ing but withdrawal or muted quasi-suicidal hints of preventive war. 
In fact, the hatred this group feels for the modern world, as mani- 
fested at home, in America, is so huge that there is little energy 
left over for the rest of the globe rather, there is an aimless de- 
structiveness in which legislative and local battles simply focus and 
dramatize resentment. 

Nevertheless, this group now possesses the enthusiasm and mo- 
mentum previously held by liberals. Its leaders cannot channel dis- 
content; they can interpret it: they can explain why everything has 
gone wrong for the while, that is enough. Thus, the picture today in 
American politics is of intelligence without force or enthusiasm fac- 
ing force and enthusiasm without intelligence. 

How much longer can this pattern last? International develop- 
ments will probably be determinative the belligerence coupled with 
isolationism of this rightist group may tempt or frighten the Soviet 
Union into further adventures and incidents, finally touching off a 
war of annihilation (we think this most unlikely, and assuredly not 
inevitable). But the present leadership of the discontented classes 
has to do more than symbolize their disorientation and lack of satis- 
fying political loyalties if it is to solidify new allegiances. For this, 
no intellectual reserve of demands appears in the offing. Instead, the 
leadership is continually subject to the temptation to fall back on the 
more developed intellectual positions of laissez-faire or of various 
brands of fascism but these, it knows, will lose them much of their 
potential following, which is neither conservative in the older free 
enterprise sense nor on the lookout for, though tempted by, civil 
commotion and foreign adventure. It is not surprising that Congress 
represents the peak of strength of this group, since Congress is a 
sounding-board for mood and an extraordinarily democratic one 
as much as it is a machine for pork-processing and bill-passing. 
A tone, however, soon becomes monotonous and, if not institution- 
alized when at its shrillest, fades away. 

In sum, the earlier leadership by the intellectuals of the under- 
privileged came about through a program of economic changes; and 
this program demonstrated an ability in the leaders to interpret the 
situation of the unorganized workers, of minority groups, and of 
marginal farmers. Today, a different group of classes (including 
many of these former underprivileged groups, now risen to middle- 
income status) wants something, but their wants (partly for the very 

110 The Radical Right 

reason that these people are now above subsistence or disfranchise- 
ment) are much less easily formulated. These new groups want an 
interpretation of the world; they want, or rather might be prepared 
to want, a more satisfying life. 

It is the unsatisfying quality of life as they find it in America that 
mostly feeds the discontent of the discontented classes. Their wealth, 
their partial access to education and fuller exposure to the mass 
media indeed, their possession of many of the insignia they have 
been taught to associate with the good life these leave them rest- 
less, ill at ease in Zion. They must continually seek for reasons ex- 
plaining their unrest and the reasons developed by intellectuals for 
the benefit of previous proletariats are of course quite irrelevant. 

Is it conceivable that the intellectuals, rather than their enemies, 
can have a share in providing new interpretations and in dissipating, 
through creative leadership, some of the resentment of the discon- 
tented classes? What kind of life, indeed, is appropriate to a society 
whose lower classes are being devoured faster by prosperity than 
Puerto Rican immigration can replenish? We have almost no idea 
about the forms the answers might take, if there are answers. But we 
do recognize that one obstacle to any rapprochement between the 
discontented classes and the intellectuals is the fact that many of the 
latter are themselves of lower-middle-class origin, and detest the 
values they have left behind the dislike is not just one way. They 
espouse a snobbery of topic which makes die interests of the semi- 
educated wholly alien to them more alien than the interests of the 
lower classes. Only in the great new melting pot of the Army would 
there appear to be instances where intellectuals discover that individ- 
uals in the discontented classes are "not so bad," despite their 
poisonous tastes in politics and culture instances where the great 
camaraderie of the male sex and the even greater one of the brass- 
haters bridge the gap created by the uneven development of social 
mobility and cultural status. Of course, to suppose that the intellec- 
tuals can do very much to guide the discontented classes by winning 
friends and influencing people among them is as ridiculous as sup- 
posing that Jews can do much to combat political anti-Semitism by 
amiability to non-Jews. Nevertheless, there is only one side from 
which understanding is likely to come, and that is their own. 

1 For data on the negligible influence of political campaigns, see Paul Lazars- 
feld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet, The People's Choice (Harper's, 
New York, 1948). 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 111 

2 To be sure, there are enclaves where the underprivileged can still be found, 
as in the Southern Alleghenies or the rural Deep South. And, as we shall 
see, the fact that "everyone" has moved up means that mobility may not 
have kept pace with aspiration, one reason why the slogan "you never had 
it so good" is a poor campaign weapon. 

3 The concept of "intolerance of ambiguity," developed by Else Frenkel- 
Brunswik and co-workers, is relevant here: these newly properous ones want 
to see the world clearly bounded, in blacks and whites; they have been 
brought up conventionally, to make use of conventional categories, and 
fluidity of boundaries threatens their self-assurance and their very hold 
on reality. 

4 It is at this point that the lack of connection between the small cadre of 
truly conservative intellectuals and any sizable anti-liberal audience becomes 
a major factor in the present political scene. For patronage politics and for 
the untutored businessman, writers like Allen Tate or Russell Kirk have 
nothing but contempt; their "conservatism" (as some critics have pointed out) 
is based on an irrelevant landed-gentry and professional-class model. With 
a few exceptions, the pseudo-conservatives who have a radical and nihilistic 
message for the untutored have to face little intellectual competition, save 
from occasional socially conscious clergymen and priests. 

5 Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an "economic" appeal, nor is a 
well-paying job a "natural" need of mankind. Rather, the present insistence 
of the American workingman that he is entitled to such a job is the out- 
growth of recent experience, clarified and interpreted for him by his leaders. 
These combine into a demonstration that depressions are not necessary 
(though perhaps wars are), and that therefore jobs and all that goes with 
them are necessary. 

6 According to a study of the 1952 election by the Survey Research Center 
of the University of Michigan, only two groupings in the population were 
resistant to these appeals and went more strongly Democratic than in 1948: 
these were the Negroes on the one extreme of the social spectrum and the 
college-educated, upper income, and professional and managerial strata at 
the other extreme the latter also produced more Republican votes, as the 
result of a decline in the non-voters. See Angus Campbell, Gerald Gurin, and 
Warren E. Miller, The Voter Decides (Row, Peterson and Co., Evanston, 
1954), Table 5.1. 

7 Professor Richard Hofstadter, to whose work we are indebted, reminds 
us of the status gain involved in being able to bait old-family Anglo-Saxons 
on the ground they are un-American a greater gain than is to be won by 
demonstrating superiority simply to the Jews. (See Chapter 3.) 

8 In the perspective employed here, "Engine Charlie" Wilson's Detroit provides 
a smaller and less cosmopolitan environment than Secretary Humphrey's 

9 Commenting on an earlier draft of this paper and we are indebted to such 
comments for many important revisions Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., reminds us 
of Utopian thinkers still alive and kicking, such as Stringfellow Barr, Clarence 
Streit, and the United World Federalists. We feel that the spectrum here is 
not wide or the proposals terribly imaginative; moreover, many of the pro- 
posals are counsels of despair, to avoid world catastrophe, rather than of 
hope, to improve American or planetary life. 

10 It was evident in the first opinion polls of the thirties that the conventional 
notion of the rich as conservative and the poor as radical was correct in the 
realm of government, labor, and distributive policy thus, the poor have no 

112 The Radical Right 

objection to government ownership but false in the realm of civil liberties 
and foreign policy where the greater impact of mistrust and fear of the 
strange and the stranger among the poor came to light. 

11 In addition, the Southern Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, such as Woodrow 
Wilson, have played a great role, especially in the Democratic and in 
splinter parties. 

12 On the whole, the English settlements over the globe indicate that the 
non-conformist conscience needs to be surrounded by other such consciences 
if it is to remain effective. The English Methodist who goes to Kenya or 
Australia to make his fortune is likely to retain the values he went out with, 
and not be prodded towards wider social sympathies, so that eventually his 
descendants will be estranged from Colonial Office officials representing his 
cousins who have stayed, and moved intellectually and morally forward in the 
Old Country. Similarly, the New Englanders who have left New England, 
the Quakers who have left Pennsylvania, may not despite relative ease of 
intranational movement keep up with developments in the original centers 
of cultivated morality. Indeed, New Englanders marooned in the Midwest 
(the late Robert Taft came of such stock) have been the source of much 
soured high-principled reaction the "colonial" conscience at its worst. 

13 The Jews, so largely beneficiaries of inflation and gainers of middle-class 
and professional status, have overwhelmingly remained Roosevelt Democrats, 
though a kind of "leakage" has provided some of the leadership and news- 
paper support for the new right. 

14 See Richard Hofstadter's excellent essay, "The Pseudo-Conservative Re- 
volt" (Chapter 3). 

15 We ourselves had an experience of this when we undertook to write a 
criticism of Norman Dodd's report as Staff Director of the Reece Committee 
investigating foundations. We criticized not only the crackpot notions that 
socialists and the great foundations had plotted to take America over on 
behalf of education and the Federal government a plot somehow connected 
with "empiricism" and the prestige-laden "name" universities but we also 
ridiculed the illiteracy, the demi-educated vein in which the report was written. 
Then we had misgivings about pulling the rank of our own education and 
relative fluency, and withdrew our comments on the style of the report. It 
is no longer comfortable (or expedient) to bait the hillbilly, the hick, the 
Negro preacher, or the night-school lawyer so, too, with the political ar- 
riviste. The ridicule that greeted Bryan in Tennessee did not greet Congress- 
man Reece. 

16 When not long ago we heard Frank Chodorov, a leading organizer and 
publicist of the right, speak to a businessmen's luncheon, we felt that he 
bore much the same relation to his audience that, for instance, a speaker 
sent out by the American League for Peace and Democracy might have borne 
to a meeting of a Unitarian Sunday evening forum: he was more extreme, 
and therefore seemed more daring, but he shared enough of the values and 
verbal tags of the group to disguise somewhat the extent to which he was 
pushing their logics and rhetorics to fanatical limits. Indeed, Communist 
organizing tactics have often given lessons to rightists, and the little library 
in a New Hampshire town that might have received, from an anonymous 
donor, a copy of a novel by Howard Fast or a subscription to The National 
Guardian will now get the Buckley and Bozell book or The Freeman. 
17 The Minute Women of America who buttonholed Senators on behalf of 
the Bricker Amendment are of course quite different in social position from 
the lower-class women who, in a few interviews a student supervised by one 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1955 113 

of us conducted by telephone, praised Senator McCarthy as the only one in 
Washington who was cleaning out the crooks and the Commies: they saw 
him as a kind of Lone Ranger, bravely fighting an all-powerful "they." 
Throughout this paper, we have had to collapse such distinctions to form 
general categories; we hope to stimulate further discussion of the coalitions 
and the contradictions that we lump as the discontented classes. 


The Intellectuals and the 
Discontented Classes: 
Some Further Reflections 


As TIME marches on, our own understanding of the past 
shifts, not only with new evidence and new interpretations, but also 
with the impact of our own experience of life. So it is with the fore- 
going essay: Nathan Glazer and I sought to explain McCarthyism, 
especially its attack on the intellectuals, not so much in terms of the 
Korean War and the problems of foreign policy as in terms of en- 
demic strains in American life and the discovery that charges of 
domestic Communism gave political leaders a way to seem active, 
strong, and rough without actually having a program. What follows 
is a re-examination of the essay, to correct what now seems mis- 
taken in it and to add a few comments concerning more recent 

The original essay was criticized by a number of readers for seek- 
ing the sources of American discontent primarily in America, and 
especially in socio-psychological and cultural developments, rather 
than viewing this discontent as a rational response to Communist 
aggressions. Similarly, Margaret Mead, in her essay "The New Iso- 
lationism," 1 criticizing Richard Hofstadter's essay as well as ours, 

* Copyright 1962 by David Riesman. 

116 The Radical Right 

There might be no atom bomb, no hydrogen bomb, no explicit insist- 
ence on a polarized world, no Communist China to alter the attitudes 
of the American people, to pinch and prune their luxuriant sense of 
national assurance, to plunge the mobile young into an orgy of grabbing 
at opportunities which they are sure will be snatched from them by 
conscription, to tear people loose from the certainties of their old in- 

Far from denying the relevance of our contentions in general, what 
troubled Margaret Mead was the emphasis of our essay, and our 
tendency to criticize the Americans for reacting anxiously and ag- 
gressively to a world situation only partly of our own making. Un- 
doubtedly, without the cold war and the revolutionary ferment in 
the world that both feeds on it and inflames it, the radical right 
would have far less of a colorable focus for its resentments: one 
cannot build a national movement out of an attack on the income 
tax, on allegedly Keynesian professors, or even on desegregation. 
Nevertheless, I still think that Hofstadter, Glazer, and I were right 
to emphasize strains endemic to American life. For the more we read 
American history, the more we are struck by the persistence of a 
secularized crusading spirit, seldom managing to seize power but 
frequently distorting the political spectrum and creating a climate in 
wHch the range of discussion and the possibilities for peaceful 
change have been foreshortened. 2 Even since we wrote the article, 
there have been internal developments, only marginally influenced 
by events abroad, that have shifted the locale of politically relevant 
discontent. I think especially of the increasing pace of change in the 
South, including the fight over desegregation, the decline of export- 
oriented farming, and the rise of tariff-oriented industry; I think also 
of the increasing gap between the generations produced by differ- 
ential education and experience, and of the consequences of electing 
an activist Irish Catholic to the Presidency. 

To take the last of these first, the election has seemed to open the 
possibility of an alliance, attempted but never consummated prior to 
the Korean War: that between Protestant and Catholic fundamen- 
talism. A relatively small minority of Catholics found Kennedy too 
much of a Harvard man, too liberal, to be a true ethnic anti-Com- 
munist patriot (A few of them have turned up in the ranks of the 
John Birch Society, named after a vehemently fundamentalist Prot- 
estant missionary.) As long as Eisenhower was President, Catholics 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 117 

who had turned Republican and Protestants who had always been 
Republican could feel that they were not totally powerless and de- 
void of influence. Furthermore, as a conservative and an at least 
nominal Republican, a General and a man of old-fashioned budget- 
balancing morality, Eisenhower could for a time reassure various old 
guards in American life that they need not bother their heads about 
politics. Such people might crusade locally to prevent the fluorida- 
tion of water (which some regarded as a Communist-capitalist plot 
and an invasion of the "states* rights" inherent in every human 
body). And such people might make sure that there were various 
subjects, such as the recognition of Red China, that it was impolitic 
for schoolteachers, librarians, or Congressmen to raise. However, 
public-opinion pollers in the 1956 Presidential election campaign re- 
ported a widespread torpor, even an incipient "era of good feeling," 
and in the early Eisenhower era the call for national purpose trum- 
peted by a few intellectuals and publicists seemed as out of place 
as an evangelist at a country club. 

As Samuel Lubell has pointed out on the basis of his surveys, this 
complacency was jarred first by sputnik, then by the dramatic rise of 
Khrushchev, and most recently by Castro, President Kennedy 
fought his campaign on the basis of an ascetic insistence on sacrifice, 
reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt's belief in strenuousness, in 
American destiny, and in the responsibility owed the nation by patri- 
cians and intellectuals. As has already been suggested, Kennedy's 
victory released the Republican radical right (never quite happy 
with Nixon in any case) and the fundamentalist Democrats North 
and South from many of the mild restraints that Eisenhower's pres- 
ence had imposed. At the same time, the new administration brought 
into office a number of the most influential spokesmen for liberalism 
within the Democratic Party; and these men, though not exactly 
"muzzled," have not only been removed from the ranks of the liberal 
and radical opposition but have taken part in the President's effort 
to reach a bi-partisan consensus, especially in foreign policy, to 
secure passage of necessary measures in Congress, and to create the 
strong working majority not provided by the election itself. The 
presence of intellectuals and academicians in the new administra- 
tion, and its cosmopolitan style and dash, have helped persuade 
many liberals that they have access to power, that the country is 
once again in purposeful, intelligent hands, and that the fight against 
the radical right doesn't need their energies. 

118 The Radical Right 

I think there is some truth in this optimism, but also a considerable 
element of illusion. I define intellectuals as a group of men who, 
whatever their field, take part in and contribute to general ideas and 
speculative thought. This group must be distinguished analytically, 
if not in concrete cases, from the many intelligent professional and 
academic men who serve the government or devote themselves to 
questions of public policy. In the limited definition I have used, 
there are not many intellectuals in America (or in any country), 
and of these, not many have the political acumen, personal asser- 
tiveness, or relative insensitivity to criticism that would open political 
or administrative careers to them. There has, however, developed in 
this country a group of lucid, well-educated, widely traveled men, 
recruited from the universities or the mass media or occasionally 
from the law, who are committed to shaping a global mission for 
America, sometimes a stabilizing and sometimes an expanding or 
policing one. Their belief, reminiscent in some ways of the early 
Puritans, that the country, like an individual, needs a purpose; their 
insistent charges that America is too affluent and indolent; and that 
we are in a race with world Communism that can be won only by 
tireless and resourceful activity all this is in many respects a new 
morality, quite out of keeping with Abilene or even the traditional 
service academies (even though, as I have indicated, one can find 
precursors of it in the first Roosevelt and also, if we put aside his 
more insistent moralism, in Woodrow Wilson). President Kennedy 
presents himself in this context as the principal hope of American 
liberals in fending off attacks from the troublesome minority of 
American Poujadists, and also as the hope of those who want this 
country to be more active on the world scene, employing its military, 
economic, and propaganda powers more effectively. 
; r Thanks to the continuing prosperity that rests so dangerously on 
the Keynesian multiplier of a war economy, it would seem that the 
center of gravity of discontent has shifted upward in the status sys- 
tem. True, hidden beneath the growing middle of "our middle-class 
society are millions of disinherited citizens, the aged and infirm and 
unskilled, the Negroes and Puerto Ricans and Southern poor whites 
large numbers of all of whom are unemployed or underemployed. 
But save for the increasingly vigorous Negro protest movements (in- 
cluding the Negro version of the radical right, the Black Muslim 
movement), most of these millions are isolated and unorganized, as 
yet unavailable as constituencies for radical political leadership. In 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 119 

Senator McCarthy's movement, there were elements of a soured 
obscurantist populism; in many parts of the country McCarthy 
the fighter, the good Joe, the exposer of Establishment shams had 
a working-class and lower-middle-class following that responded not 
to his program, for he had none, but to his methods, his tone and 
targets*^foday's radical right wing, in contrast, appears to draw much 
of its ' membership as well as its financial and polemical backing 
from far more well-to-do strata. It would seem that the small busi- 
nessmen who belong to the John Birch Society are on the whole, 
like the Texas oil-rich who backed McCarthy, small businessmen in 
the sense of having limited educations and little experience as cor- 
porate managers in a complex world but they are not poor) One 
can own a small trucking or real-estate firm or candy company 
and still amass millions and be encouraged to believe that one did 
it all by oneself. Even more menacing are the indications that a few 
large corporations have found that anti-Communism is no longer 
"controversial" but can bring in sales and good will, so that Mtherto 
cautious corporate officials who undoubtedly supported Eisenhower 
and, after hin^ Nixon now may listen to the peddlers of propaganda 
films and educational materials like those General Walker thought 
his division in Germany required. Furthermore, while many of the 
scientists and other staff men who work for the big missile and 
electronics companies are apolitical and at times quite cynical about 
their work (and a very few actively favor arms limitation), 
others may be grateful for the ideological justification provided by 
that right-wing brain trust, swelled by former Communists who have 
seen the light, without which Senator McCarthy himself would not 
have known the First Amendment from the Fifth Amendment or a 
Trotskyite from a Social Fascist. 

To be sure, it remains true that the growing minority of old people 
who feel rejected, disoriented, impoverished and resentful are ready 
to applaud an anti-political movement that promises to reorganize 
the world so that the old folks can understand it again. Many of 
them, less well educated than their children or even the entertainers 
who nightly abuse them on television, are grateful for the simplistic, 
evangelistic messages of anti-Communism, which affirm to their hear- 
ers that the latter are the really good Americans, whatever their 
ethnicity, whatever their failure to live up to the American dream 
of youthfulness, competence, love, and success. These devalued eld- 
ers, moreover, may be willing to applaud a speaker who denounces 

120 The Radical Right 

the income tax, though the vigor of denunciation matters even more 
to them than the topic. But it remains a question whether the rich 
reactionaries and the poor oldsters can form a united front around 
the anti-Communist issue when what they actually want from 
society is something so different. 

In many communities, notably in the South and Southwest, ex- 
tremely rapid urbanization and industrialization (often based on or 
growing out of defense activities) have disrupted the already fragile 
social structure so that there is no old elite sufficiently in charge of 
affairs to say "nobody's going to beat up Freedom Riders in this 
town and nobody, in the name of anti-Communism, is going to push 
librarians and schoolteachers around either." It is notable that per- 
haps the first public opposition to the John Birch Society came in 
Santa Barbara, from a very old man, a newspaper publisher who 
had grown up with the community and who assumed responsibility 
for civic decency when no one else would. (Papers that are owned 
by the staff or by a chain are often too faceless for this sort of 
free enterprise.) The fluid social structure in many expanding com- 
munities creates anxiety and bewilderment as well as opening op- 
portunities for aggressive political activism among the newly awak- 
ened and the newly rich, who suddenly have discovered the uses of 
literacy. The situation allows new converts to the dangers of do- 
mestic Communism to practice their skills of intimidation locally: 
heckling at SANE meetings, expunging a textbook that mentions the 
United Nations, or setting students to spy on their professors at 
the teachers' college. Meanwhile, they watch the political horizon in 
search of a national leader comparable to McCarthy, appraising 
Senators Goldwater and Thurmond, hopeful about General Walker, 
but not yet solidified behind a single leader. 3 
* But they have found a national and nationalistic cause in an 
anti-Communism, the belligerent frenzy and fanaticism of which 
is often vaguely reminiscent of the extravagances of Frenchmen 
in Algeria or of Japanese militarists before Pearl Harbor. Since 
this country has never been seriously hurt by war, except for the one 
it fought with itself (the memory of which we are now turning into 
a nostalgic celebration), and since most Americans have been in 
my opinion grossly miseducated about the world during the cold-war 
years, the radical right can always insist that the administration is 
following a policy that is insufficiently belligerent, insufficiently tough 
and dynamic. In fact, Kennedy during his campaign shared the 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 121 

right-wing picture of an America pushed around by Khrushchev and 
Castro, and suffering defeat after defeat in the cold war, a tendentious 
picture that ignores the troubles of the Communists in the Congo 
and elsewhere and that proceeds from tacit premises either of om- 
nipotence or of total rather than limited containment The real chance 
of the right wing will come, it would seem, as this picture is high- 
lighted through further changes in world alignments that can be 
interpreted as defeats for us and victories for a monolithic Com- 
munism. While it may generally be true that the ordinary citizen is 
averse to policies requiring war and sacrifice, it is possible that if the 
fear of Communism and nuclear war becomes sufficiently intense, 
many Americans will leap eagerly to short-cuts that promise to 
get things over with. 

This jumpiness is enhanced by the fact that many Americans find 
it hard to realize, with full emotional awareness, that nuclear war 
is not simply a quantitative extrapolation of previously terrible near- 
total wars. The very term "war" puts it in a familiar category, as do 
the common terms "all-out war" or "shooting war" or "hot war." In 
the face of right-wing attacks, the administration denies that it is 
pursuing a "no win" policy; it argues instead that it is just as com- 
bative, only more clever or roundabout. It is true, as public opinion 
polls have shown, that perhaps the majority of Americans intellectu- 
ally recognize the catastrophic nature of what strategists sometimes 
refer to as a nuclear "exchange," and will tell an interviewer that 
they do not expect to survive. But these same Americans see no 
legitimate way to deal with what they regard as the encircling, cres- 
cent dangers of world Communism, other than by applying misread 
lessons of Munich and Pearl Harbor. And even now, against their 
better judgment, they find it hard to believe that this broad country, 
shielded by right and might, could be damaged beyond recognition: 
things have gone well with them as individuals (as the polls also 
show) and, outwardly, with the country. 

A psychologically and politically expedient "solution" for these 
dilemmas is to find a scapegoat who can be ostracized and bullied 
because he stands for the bigger Soviet bully who is at once less 
available and more threatening. As already argued, the extreme right 
wing occupies itself very largely with domestic scapegoats of this sort, 
finding an inexhaustible supply among vulnerable liberals even when 
the supply of actual (non-FBI-agent) Communists and even fellow 
travelers does not meet the demand. Castro has become such a scape- 

122 The Radical Right 

goat. No German Jew, he may have welcomed this role. It binds 
more firmly to him the Communist powers, on whom he has become 
dependent. And the role may also be welcome to a Latin-American 
revolutionary who wants to break with the soberer reformism of men 
like Munoz Marin, Betancourt, or Haya de la Torre, and whose 
provocativeness may have a touch of the cult of machismo, or male- 
ness, that appeals to many students in Latin America, and to a few 
in this country. The chances seem all too good that we will continue 
to make Castro a scapegoat, and that the latter will be able, by 
frightening and aggravating us, to do precisely what we most resent 
and fear, namely, to allow our adversaries to limit our freedom of 
action by pushing us into violent counter-aggression. Indeed, Ken- 
nedy in his campaign was driven toward this very trap, not only by 
his specific denunciation of Communism "ninety miles from home," 
but also by his general assault on the do-nothing character of the 
administration. 4 

In the last years of the Eisenhower presidency, Eisenhower's sup- 
porters themselves had tended to grow somewhat restless and dis- 
affected. Though their Republican ideology favored decentralization 
and federal inaction, even men who would have enjoyed Eisenhower's 
company at golf or hunting or bridge in South Georgia had become 
uneasy at the growing signs that the United States could no longer 
play world policeman with impunity, and that we might someday 
be unable to roll back the tide of Communist advance while going 
about our business as before. Hence the propaganda about national 
purpose began to hit home among those who once would have 
thought a national purpose a violation of laissez-faire and perhaps 
a form of spurious religiosity as well as if the new nationalism of 
the rising nations (including the Communist ones) were being ech- 
oed here at home just as other militant nationalistic tactics were be- 
coming attractive in the name of freedom. Thus Eisenhower left to 
the country, and to his successor, a legacy of feeling that there 
ought to be someone in charge and this feeling perhaps was height- 
ened by the new awareness that there was obviously no one in 
charge of our sprawling metropolises, our wasting natural resources, 
and our increasingly complicated and ambiguous ties with the rest 
of the globe. There are still powerful currents of evangelical fervor 
in America. These currents may in fact be exacerbated by a pros- 
perity that is associated with cities, complexity, "softness," irreligion, 
and skepticism toward traditional virtues. And while President Eisen- 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 123 

bower's election owed something to that fervor, which is not con- 
fined to rural areas and small towns, many who had voted for form 
could not rest comfortably with what they felt was a somewhat 
shaky and uneven prosperity. Such people might still not be pre- 
pared to make real sacrifices, let alone the unimaginable sacrifices 
even of "tactical" nuclear war, but they might be prepared to listen 
to calls for sacrifice to reassert national control and supremacy 
against the apparently unequivocal Communist successes. Further- 
more, as suggested in the earlier essay, an evangelical counterat- 
tack by proponents of American Puritan virtues could allow Catho- 
lics and other newer Americans thus to establish their superiority to 
older, better-educated, but "decadent" families. The counterattack 
itself, calling for "action" but securing it at present only in symbolic 
doses, provides a sense of momentum. 

Activist lay leaders in fundamentalist churches sometimes have 
an opportunity to conduct their church work with a single-minded, 
businesslike efficiency and pep from which they are restrained in 
the conduct of business itself by having to cope with labor unions, 
customers, tax collectors and other government officials. So, too, 
when such men and their wives as well get into political work, 
their local community may offer a wide range of relatively easy 
victories, exciting rallies, and dramatic, seemingly dangerous vicis- 
situdes reminiscent on a Mgher income and educational level of 
Ku Klux Elan attractions. Quite generally, it would seem, when 
such rigftt-wingers attend a Unitarian or other liberal-church meet- 
ing to picket or heckle, and are asked who they axe, they reply 
with some right-wing version of the Fifth Amendment; e.g., **I am 
a loyal American." They may hand out a mimeographed statement, 
but they will refuse to give their names, sometimes indicating that 
they fear Communist reprisal. The rich and the poor fundamental- 
ists have this much in common: they fear the way the world is 
going, at home or abroad; they resent those more cosmopolitan peo- 
ple who appear to understand the world less badly and who seem 
less ill at ease with all the different kinds of people who mingle in 
our big cities or at the United Nations. Moreover, whatever sectarian 
or doctrinal differences divide the discontented from each other in 
theological termC'all can agree on the gospel of Americanism. 5 (Of 
course, it should be clear that I speak of right-wing fundamentalism, 
but I am not suggesting that all fundamentalists in religion are right- 
wingers in politics. Many reject politics as one of the things of this 

124 The Radical Right 

world that is alien to the devout and otherworldly; many others find 
in the Gospels the basis for often courageous Christian social action 
for peace or racial integration.) 

Seven years ago, it appeared to Mr. Glazer and me that a hold- 
ing game against the Communists would be frustrating but endurable. 
Since then, Soviet Communism has broken away from Stalin's para- 
noia, caution, and brutality and seems at once more flexible and 
more difficult to understand; it is also much better armed, militarily 
if not ideologically. At the same time, as I have sought to emphasize, 
President Kennedy has broken out of the limits imposed on Ameri- 
can policy by the provincial, benign but restrictive morality of 
his predecessor. President Kennedy brings to this task exceptional 
gifts of virtuosity, drive, charm, and impatience, and he and his ad- 
visers have a grasp of the world far more differentiated and supple 
than the narrow moralism of John Foster Dulles. In addition, the 
new administration is deeply and energetically committed to civil 
rights as both a domestic- and a foreign-policy imperative, and it is 
naturally drawn toward support for civil liberties by its ties to aca- 
demic and intellectual values and by its view of what is fitting for a 
civilized and sophisticated society. President Kennedy himself is any- 
thing but a demagogue, as his debates with Nixon showed, nor is he 
jan indignant and fanatical ideologue. Nevertheless, his rhetoric of 
activism speaks to the mood of many in the discontented classes, 
and since he has in some measure freed himself from his predecessor's 
budgetary and other controls, 6 the anti-Communism of the radical 
right can always appear to be an extension of the administration's 
doctrine to its logical conclusion a conclusion from which, as the 
right would say, the administration itself draws back only from 
softness, inconsistency, treason, or incompetence. The effect of 
this pressure from the radical right, in the absence of anything like 
comparable pressures from the left, is to shift the whole climate of 
political contest and discussion toward the right (a process of which 
the men of intellect and intelligence in the administration may not 
be fully aware, protected as they are by their metropolitan locale 
and contacts). 

At the present writing (winter, 1962), President Kennedy appears 
to have satisfied all but the wildly irrational right wing (plus the 
Republicans and the racketeers who hope to get money or office by 
playing on the fears and hopes of this group) that he is pursuing a 
vigorous yet cautious anti-Communism and that he can not only 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 125 

"stand up to Khrushchev," as at Berlin, but outpoint him in the ring. 
Grateful in spite of themselves for forcefulness and direction, many 
conservatives have come to realize that President Kennedy, outside of 
the field of civil rights and discounting rhetoric and personal sym- 
pathies, is himself quite conservative, and not a reborn New Dealer. 7 
Thus the President would seem to have absorbed some of the right- 
wing's drive and to have rendered it relatively harmless on the na- 
tional scene, whatever its power to punish dissenters locally. But in 
a fluid national and international setting, the problem cannot be left 
at this point. In moods of crisis, militancy, where it is not too ideo- 
logical or complicated, is an attractive quality to Americans. Older, 
more tolerant, or more acquiescent men who are not themselves 
militant may be influenced more than they realize by militant sub- 
ordinates or critics, especially if the latter combine an apparently 
hardheaded realism (e.g., a skepticism about the possibilities of 
peaceful coexistence) with the quiet sincerity and fervor of their 
dedication. This constellation may help press the administration to- 
ward policies (that are also attractive on other grounds) of respond- 
ing to the nuclear stalemate by energetic non-nuclear military ac- 
tions, whether in Cuba or in South Vietnam, or in the domestic 
para-military step of an expanded civil-defense program. 8 

Such measures, whatever justification each standing in isolation 
may have, antagonize much of the rest of the world, especially the 
non-white formerly colonial world. And this antagonism seems to 
Americans both utterly bewildering and grossly ungrateful, detaching 
us still further from the rest of the world and thus feeding discon- 
tent simultaneously at home and abroad. Indeed, it may well be 
that this administration, far more cosmopolitan and world-minded 
than the country at large, may serve to isolate us from the world 
more than did an administration dominated by the fiscal conserva- 
tism and small-mindedness of men like George Humphrey and "En- 
gine Charley" Wilson. TMs is all the more likely since Communism is 
no longer confined within the limited bounds of Stalin's mistrustful 
isolationism. And can anyone foretell the reaction here at home, 
or the situation abroad, when the Chinese Communists gain nuclear 
weapons? While we and the Soviet Union are running an accelerated 
arms race, nationalistic and discontented groups within each adver- 
sary of the two superpowers or their allies help provoke their op- 
posite numbers in each country, and thus lend justification to a 
program of increased militancy at home and abroad. 

126 The Radical Right 

In this perspective, it appears that in the earlier essay Mr. Glazer 
and I may have underestimated somewhat the effect of foreign 
policy and of such issues as "who lost China" in the support of 
McCarthyism. But what I still would stress is that we deal here not 
with foreign affairs in the abstract but with specifically American 
reactions to solutions that must be imperfect, or indeed to any am- 
biguous and tragic situations. 

As C. Vann Woodward pointed out a few years ago, only the 
South is "un-American" in having suffered defeat, in having lacked 
the dynamic of industrialism, and in having gained in these ways 
some skepticism about the doctrine of progress. Yet despite much 
talk of states' rights and individual freedom, the South does not to- 
day seem aware of the consolations of being a defeated power. 9 It 
has certainly made no effort to control its own booming industraliza- 
tion or its combination of sectional Irredentism and nationalist bel- 
ligerence. And while before the Second World War the South was 
perhaps the most pro-British, pro-free-trade, interventionist part of 
the country, today it may be the most tariff-minded and the most 
anti-British (whenever Britain tries to moderate the cold war). 10 

The Southern white college students, as a number of surveys have 
shown, seldom share either the prejudices or the passions of their 
vocal elders. And the Negro college students increasingly fail to adopt 
the passivities and covert compromises of their elders. Our earlier es- 
say was written before the desegregation decision had made itself 
felt in the South, and shortly thereafter, in connection with the Fund 
for the Republic study of academic freedom, 11 I visited, though only 
for a day, the Greensboro Agricultural and Technical College, where 
a few years later the first sit-ins began. From my visit and from 
what I was told by other observers, I would not have expected the 
sit-ins to start in an institution where most of the students appeared 
to be satisfied to enter the lower ranks of the "black bourgeoisie" and 
where their apparently docile patriotism comforted and confirmed 
the established leadership, Negro and white alike. That same year, I 
analyzed several hundred interviews of college seniors at twenty 
colleges and universities throughout America in which the students 
had described what they looked forward to in life fifteen years 
hence; I noted complacency, amiability, tolerance, and a lack of 
ideological and political concerns on the part of most of these re- 
spondents. 12 From such material I certainly did not expect the sud- 
den growth on many campuses of student protest movements, today 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 127 

still small in number but not small in vigor and impact. When I 
came to Harvard in 1958, an effort to found a Committee to 
Study Disarmament was temporarily abandoned thanks to disrup- 
tion by a group of Young Republicans (who intervened much as 
Communists used to take over liberal organizations); in February, 
1962, as I write these lines. Harvard students are taking active 
leadership in planning a demonstration in Washington, and three 
hundred students at this notably skeptical, cool, and sophisticated 
college have volunteered to go. 

Students in America are not a class, nor do they speak for a class 
(though in the Negro community they are able, perhaps, to speak for 
a race). At times their tendency to act outside of conventional 
parliamentary channels may represent a feeling that they are living 
in an occupied country and indeed those students who have been 
abroad, whether in the Peace Corps or in such predecessors of it as 
the Experiment in International Living, are often well aware that the 
climate of debate in this country on cold-war issues has become ex- 
tremely constricted. 

It is generally thought that the debate is more open and uncen- 
sored now than it was at the height of McCarthyism. In some re- 
spects, this is so: there is, for instance, more give and take with the 
Communist countries, and more awareness of the fact that these 
countries are not all alike or unalterable, either ideologically or in 
terms of social organization. Yet in other respects, the bi-partisan 
consensus with respect to foreign policy has served to impose more 
complex and subtle restraints on free discussion of alternatives than 
McCarthyism did. For the very virulence, unpleasantness, and dem- 
agoguery of McCarthy led, if not to counterattack or even to 
solidarity, at least to a common feeling of disgust and distrust among 
liberal intellectuals and many conservatives. 

McCarthy, however, was not interested in the cold war but only 
in dissatisfactions within America, including the exploitable griev- 
ances of rising ethnic minorities. Today, in contrast, the Kennedy 
administration focuses much, if not most, of its attention on the cold 
war, and the very attractiveness and elan of this administration tend 
to mute liberal and radical dissent. World Communism is a real and 
not a factitious adversary, and perhaps it is easier to unify the 
country against Communism abroad than against people who are 
extravagantly alleged to be Communists at home. In any case, many 
leading intellectuals have been hesitant to plumb the depths of their 

128 The Radical Right 

misgivings about the Kennedy administration. In the nuclear age their 
anxiety about the future has a nightmarish quality, and as the cold- 
war consensus develops, they understandably fear the prospect of 
becoming alienated and powerless. When the President expresses 
their more Utopian hopes, as he sometimes does, they are cheered; 
when he moves in the opposite direction, they blame his advisers or 

not unreasonably Congress or the mass media or an electorate 

responsive to slogans. 

The young radical students, in contrast, have in many cases been 
more quickly alienated from the administration. Because so many 
of them believed that the Democrats in the North are the party of 
yirtue, thir expectations were perhaps too high, and the Cuban in- 
vasiO^~b6gan for a number of them a drastic disenchantment, end- 
ing with the view that Kennedy's administration is more clever but 
also more dangerous and militaristic than Eisenhower's. 13 In the eyes 
of the young, the older generation of intellectuals has succeeded 
almost too well in dissecting and demolishing Communism apd its 
fronts and liberal hopefulness and trust also. I have sometimes 
found that young activists do not want to be warned about the 
duplicities of domestic Communists and fellow-travelers. They are 
impatient with our prudence and historical awareness, which they 
regard as pussyfooting at best and witch-hunting at worst. The 
enormous changes that have overtaken America in the last genera- 
tion, particularly in the last few years, have separated many young 
people from their elders rather more than generations are usually 
divided, and each generation in the presence of the other feels in- 
secure and perplexed. 

~~ At the same time the dominant academic liberalism of the major 
metropolitan centers, combined with the vitality and activity of the 
new protest groups, has helped bring into being new organizations 
of right-wing students for whom in an earlier day college would 
have been simply the dormitory and locale for fun and games. In the 
past, students who identified themselves as conservative did not feel 
threatened in the campus social climate that supported their prankish 
and ordinarily unreflective activities. Many such students can still 
be found; perhaps they are the majority in the country as a whole. 
In the past, the fraternities and sororities could protect such students 
from having to come to terms with the academic culture, while 
remaining on relatively good terms with the values of their parents 
and of the alumni, whose ranks they would soon join. Increasingly 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 129 

today, however, these protections against the larger intellectual 
world do not suffice, any more than the Atlantic and Pacific suffice 
to protect America itself from the fear of destruction. On the larger 
campuses, a least a few students can usually be found who possess 
the, forensic ability, the desire for individualism, and the eagerness to 
fight fire with fire that can propel them into organizing right-wing 
groups; articulate journals such as the National Review provide am- 

These right-wing students (and some of the more sober and 
ideologically committed conservatives as well) are armored with facts 
and are often able to cite Communist abuses and treacheries around 
the globe with a debater's "skill. Such students, on graduation if not 
before, are capable of taking part in the many seminars, schools, 
and more or less intellectual apparatuses of today's anti-Communist 
movements. (To be sure, there are still plenty of less articulate right- 
wingers who are satisfied to shout "Better dead than Red" or "We 
want more bombs," but these are seldom found among the educated 
just as Southern segregationist mobs include few from the edu- 
cated strata.) 

I speak here on the basis of rough impressions and cannot ade- 
quately document the changes that I sense. Father Coughlin had his 
followers gather in small groups or cells to listen to Ms broadcasts 
and receive instructions, but his sermons made little attempt at 
intellectual analysis. Senator McCarthy's speeches and hearings made 
more of an effort to give the appearance of analysis, with the con- 
stant waving of documents and citing of supposed facts. Members of 
the John Birch Society and enrollees at various anti-Communist 
seminars sometimes appear to be people of the book, and a portion 
of the literature aimed at them blends exigent secularized funda- 
mentalism with the witch-doctor academese ("each and every 
Harvard graduate"; "known Comsymp") that helps make such 
pamphleteering attractive for some of the uneasy new rich whose 
achievements have outran their anticipations. It is not clear to me 
where to draw the line between the radical right and extreme con- 
servatives. Senator Goldwatefs sometimes humorous and genial 
tone is very different from that of the more obviously sectarian and 
suspiciously secretive groups. But he is capable of simplifications, 
such as the demand for total victory in the battle with world Com- 
munism, which speak to the malaise of the more angrily discon- 
tented. 14 

130 The Radical Right 

Nor is it clear to me what weight ideology possesses in these 
various fragmentary movements. The sit-in and disarmament groups 
often reject ideology 15 and complexity in preference for a single 
issue simply seen though some of the groups are scholarly and 
searching, particularly in the field of disarmament and foreign pol- 
icy. On the radical right, as just suggested, there is a stronger at- 
tempt than before to support attitudes with ideology or at least with 
slogans and superficial information; there is more fanaticism and 
less fooling around. As people become aware of their national de- 
fenselessness in the nuclear age, the militant may feel they need 
ideas even while they fear them. The educational and intellectual 
upgrading of our population as a whole forces right-wing groups 
to pay more attention to ideas or to their semblance. 

Efforts to explain even in social psychological terms a political or 
cultural movement risks making it appear too rational, too much a 
direct response to external events. I now think that in our earlier 
effort to understand the radical-right mentality we placed too much 
emphasis on the ties between New Dealers and a few Communists or 
alleged Communists such as Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White. 
For the discovery of a few actual spies and compromised bureaucrats 
had slight importance, perhaps, among the fanatical true believers of 
the radical right, convinced of their own powerlessness and cynical 
about politicians and big shots; among such an audience even so 
inveterate an anti-Communist as Dean Acheson could be made to 
appear traitorous. Beyond these circles, with their crusading wild- 
ness, however, such events as the Hiss case did have an important 
effect, giving McCarthy and his allies a gloss of rationalism and de- 
moralizing many liberals, whether or not they had had any contact 
with front organizations. Looking inward at their own mistakes, more- 
over, as lack of power often leads the vulnerable and reflective to 
do, some articulate and self-conscious intellectuals who left the Com- 
munist Party or various splinter groups have remained perhaps un- 
duly preoccupied with liberal guilt, innocence, or disingenuousness 
vis-a-vis Communism in the 1930s and 1940s. In my judgment, 
both Communists and anti-Communists have a stake in exaggerating 
the importance of the Communists in this period, and the ready 
gullibility of liberals to Communist-front organizations. But (as Han- 
nah Arendt pointed out in The Origins of Totalitarianism) fronts 
look both ways, and it is arguable that labor unions and other move- 
ments for social betterment exploited the Communists' fanaticism 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 131 

while the Communists believed that they were the exploiters. It 
seems to me that many liberal intellectuals have become fixated 
on the past, yet without seeing it in perspective, and are distracted 
from imagining a better future by the gnawing desire to cope with 
vestiges of domestic Communist contamination and with the still 
potent dangers of McCarthyism. In practical politics for instance, 
in the peace movement the two issues create difficult questions for 
strategy, ethics, and clarity, but they offer diminishing returns to our 
understanding of the dangers and the opportunities of the future. 

If we must wait until we understand ourselves, we are unlikely 
to get out of the nuclear age, indeed may not get out of it what- 
ever we do. But clearly one requirement for getting out is a less 
oppressive domestic climate, and achieving this would seem to en- 
tail drastic re-education, and measures on many fronts abroad and 
at home, to give Americans a feeling of creativity in the discovery 
of a political equivalent that would also be a moral equivalent for 

In the light of all these crescent dangers, the earlier article seems 
to me today too detached and somewhat complacent an essay. Since 
it was written, intelligence and discontent have both gained much 
more importance in American life. Emerging from the sordid and 
frightening distraction provided by Senator McCarthy though not 
by any means from all the legacies of Ms procedures and his view 
of the world the intellectuals regained some confidence. And in 
the last years of the Eisenhower presidency, despite Stevenson's 
two defeats, men began to run for Congress and the Senate and to 
take part in political life who were as much at home in the world 
of ideas as their colleagues and predecessors were in the court- 
house crowd or the Masonic Lodge of small-town Republicanism. 
Indeed, the discussion of disarmament and foreign policy in the 
United States has become more open, more sophisticated, and more 
widespread in the last few years; preoccupations once confined to the 
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and a few other specialized or 
sectarian groups can now be shared with a far wider audience, in- 
side as well as outside the administration. The difficulty, as so often * 
in history, is that events seem to be outpacing the rapid growth of 
understanding and the rather slower development of political con- 
cepts and forms that might bring about a more creative domestic 
and foreign policy. The spirit of McCarthyism reflects long-standing 
discontents and bellicosities in America, for our society is one 

132 The Radical Right 

where men and groups are accustomed to mobility, to expansion, to 
progress and secular growth, and the cold war now provides a 
wider stage for the drama of winning and losing, of growth and 
senescence. 16 

The antibodies against McCarthyism are not hardy. But what makes 
the radical right so ominous now is less its impact on civil liberties 
and domestic affairs, which can be held in check with the resiliency 
of politics, than its potential power, in co-operation with mindless 
militancy in other countries, to jeopardize, at least in the northern 
latitudes, the human enterprise itself. Political plagues become dev- 
astating when a single plane or Polaris submarine can carry more 
death than all the bombs of World War II. 

i The American Scholar, Summer, 1955, pp. 378-82. 

2d Roger Hagan, "American Response to Change," Contact No. 9, Vol. 

m, No. 1 (September, 1961), pp. 7-17. 

3 This is a perennial problem of the right wing and perhaps of all extremist 
groups. The authoritarianism, suspiciousness, and even mild paranoia that 
drive people into the right wing also drive them into suspicion of each 
other. Hitler's accomplishment lay in part in bringing to his banner the 
gifted Goebbels and Goering and, later, Speer, whereas the American right 
wing has not yet been able to unite behind a team with such diversified 

4 Another consequence of the election campaign was apparently to make 
more difficult the re-election of a number of liberal Congressmen, and a 
number of those who had belonged in Congress to the small, brave, but not 
willful band of "peace Congressmen" such as Byron Johnson, Charles 
Porter, and William Meyer were defeated. The jingoism of the campaign 
might have been a factor in their defeat; also reflected was the way in 
which Protestant fundamentalist bigotry against a Catholic in the White 
House was aroused against Democratic candidates generally, even in areas 
where it was all right for a Catholic to occupy the statehouse. Cf., however, 
Tris Coffin, 'The Political Effects of the Liberal Project" (Newsletter of the 
Committee of Correspondence, May, 1962), pointing out that these defeated 
Congressmen ran ahead of President Kennedy and calling attention to local 
factors both in their earlier victories and their later defeats. 

Since this postscript was written, the attack by Senator Barry Goldwater 
and by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee and other 
right-wing Congressmen on The Liberal Papers, a collection of essays on 
foreign policy, edited by Congressman James Roosevelt and prepared for the 
Liberal Project, has served to underline the ability of the right wing in 
marginal Congressional districts to intimidate its opposition and to narrow 
the discussion of alternatives. The Liberal Papers, to which I was one of the 
contributors, includes a number of reasonably scholarly essays exploring 
various foreign-policy issues, but the attack on the book has been so ferocious, 
accusing it of being a blueprint for an American Munich or the left-wing 
equivalent of the John Birch Society's Blue Book, that a number of the Demo- 
cratic Congressmen who had originally taken part in the Project have under-* 
standably disidentified themselves with it. The defeats of 1960 have not helped 

The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes 1962 133 

the morale of these men, all of whom come from close districts, and It is 
hard to criticize their lack of solidarity when it is realized that each Congress- 
man seeking re-election is on his own, facing an irreducible minimum of 
right-wing opinion in his home district (often well financed and in control 
of the local media) and unable to explain to his constituents why he has 
taken it on himself to sharpen foreign-policy issues that are not his main 
concern and that aren't their main concern either. Political analysts have 
observed that few Congressmen are in fact defeated because of stands they 
have taken on issues, but they can be defeated if they seem far out, or 
inattentive to local preoccupations. 

5 1 recall in this connection an extremely revealing and disturbing study done 
at a junior college on the West Coast, which indicated that education served 
to moderate the anti-minority ethnocentrism of students (many of whom 
were planning to become teachers) but, if anything, to increase their nation- 
alism. In other words, a certain tolerance for minorities within this country 
has, as it were, been gained at the cost of a greater chauvinism. 

6 While President Kennedy's rhetoric is less budget-minded than that of Presi- 
dent Eisenhower, his administration would appear to be almost as orthodox 
in fiscal matters, limited not only by fear of offending the financial com- 
munity but also by the balance-of-payments problem. Even so, the radical 
right is frightened by the liberal speeches of the Democrats, and I believe 
the latter are in fact less able than the Republicans to use the budget as a 
tacit form of arms control. There has been left very little budget surplus to 
use as a political weapon in domestic controversy after armaments, and 
associated foreign-aid programs, nearly everything else becomes a fringe 

7 There is some evidence that the Kennedy-Nixon TV debates, by compelling 
Nixon supporters to see the latter's opponent (rather than shut him out, as 
partisans so often do with the opposition), prepared them to realize that the 
enemy candidate was no monster and thereby to be won over after the in- 

8 1 recognize that there are reasons, perhaps in one or another case sufficient 
ones, for each of these actions, quite apart from domestic politics. Thus we 
are pressured to act in South Vietnam by Communist-guerrilla tactics (and 
the hope of finding a way of repulsing these everywhere else) and by fear 
for all our Asian allies with whom we are linked in military pacts. And 
we are pressed to act in Cuba by shaky Central and South American states. 
Moreover, the administration would deny that civil defense, though shifted 
to the Pentagon, is a para-military measure (though it is clearly this in the 
minds of some counterforce strategists), being simply a rational effort at 
insurance. What I am emphasizing in this essay as in the preceding one are 
the domestic pressures that are one factor in the American response to the 
cold war and to the momentum and forms in which that war is carried on. 

9 As W. J. Cash angrily reminds his readers in The Mind of the South, not 
even before the Civil War was the South the stable social order, governed by 
Tidewater gentry, that magnolia mythology describes. 

10 The South (not counting Texas) was also anti-McCarthy, while today it 
offers support to various right-wing crusaders who, whatever their nominal 
political color, are opposed to the Democratic Party of President Kennedy. 
I recognize that the voting South is a minority, and that those who claim 
to speak for the South speak for a minority; the entire South has perhaps 
changed less rapidly than its articulate and organized cadres. 

f. Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Wagner TMelens, Jr., The Academic Mind; 

134 The Radical Right 

Social Scientists in a Time of Crisis (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1958). 

12 See "The Found Generation/' The American Scholar, Vol. 25, 1956, pp. 

13 Since they fear being again disillusioned, there is sometimes a tendency 
wholly to disregard the efforts toward disarmament and the reduction of 
tensions that President Kennedy has in fact made, in alternation with his 
efforts to secure "positions of strength." 

14 Goldwater was picketed at a recent meeting by members of a radical-right 
organization who carried signs saying, "We want war. . . . Red Russia must 
not survive." Such exhortations are alien to much of the literate prose of 
the National Review* At some Catholic colleges, Goldwater may be a draw- 
ing card for students who find the priests and other religious who teach at 
their college departing from the doctrine or liturgical practice of their dioce- 
san priest and threatening the students with complexity, much as they are 
threatened on secular campuses. 

15 Rejecting ideology, like rejecting abstraction or being sincere and natural, 
is more easily said than done. There is always a tacit ideology. Futhermore, 
there has been a flourishing of student liberal and radical journalism (the 
active leaders are often graduate students) which both reviews what is hap- 
pening in the world and seeks to interpret it in a neo-Marxist, existentialist, 
or other contemporary perspective. 

16 Cf ., for fuller discussion, Riesman and Michael Maccoby, "The American 
Crisis,** in James Roosevelt, ed., The Liberal Papers (New York: Doubleday 
Anchor Books, 1962), pp. 13-47. 


The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 


Defeat of western silver. 

Defeat of the -wheat. 

Victory of letterfiles 

And plutocrats in miles 

With dollar signs upon their coats 

And spats on their feet. 

Victory of custodians, 

Plymouth Rock, 

And all that inbred landlord stock. 

Victory of the neat. . . . " ' 

Defeat of the Pacific and the long Mississippi. . . , 

And all these in their helpless days 

By the dour East oppressed, , . . 

Crucifying half the West, 

Till the whole Atlantic coast 

Seemed a giant spiders 3 nest. . . 

And all the way to frightened Maine the old East 

heard them call, . . . 
Prairie avenger, mountain lion, 
Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, 
Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the 


from Vache! Lindsay's "higher vaudeville* 5 
imitation of how a sixteen-year-old Bryanite 
Populist radical in 1896 would have viewed 
the revolt of western mass egalitarianism 
against Atlantic Coast traditionalism and 
aristocracy. Note the stress on revenge 
("avenger, mountain lion") for having been 
humiliated and patronized intellectually or 
socially by 'that inbred landlord stock" of 
Plymouth Rock; this emotion of revenge for 

136 The Radical Right 

humiliation is often shared by recent immi- 
grants in Boston and the east as well as by 
the Populist older stock in Wisconsin and 
the west. 

DURING THE Jacobin Revolution of 1793, in those quaint 
days when the lower classes still thought of themselves as the lower 
classes, it was for upper-class sympathies and for not reading "sub- 
versive leftist literature" that aristocrats got in trouble. 

Note the reversal in America. Here the lower classes seem to be 
the upper classes they have automobiles, lace curtains and votes. 
Here, in consequence, it. is for alleged lower-class sympathies for 
"leftist" sympathies that the aristocrats are purged by the lower 

In reality those lower-class sympathies are microscopic in most 
of that social register (Lodge, Bohlen, Acheson, Stevenson, and 
Harvard presidents) which McCarthy is trying to purge; even so, 
leftist sympathies are the pretext given for the purge. Why is it 
necessary to allege those lower-class sympathies as pretext? Why 
the pretext in the first place? Because in America the suddenly 
enthroned lower classes cannot prove to themselves psychologically 
that they are now upper-class unless they can indict for pro-prole- 
tariat subversion those whom they know in their hearts to be Ameri- 
ca's real intellectual and social aristocracy. 

Ostensibly our aristocrats are being metaphorically guillotined for 
having signed, twenty years ago, some pinko-front petition by that 
egghead Voltaire (a typical reversal of the '1793 pretext) and for 
having said, not "Let them eat cake," but "Let them read books" 
(violation of loyalty oath to TV). Behind these ostensible pretexts, 
the aristocratic pro-proletarian conspirators are actually being guil- 
lotined for having been too exclusive socially and, even worse, 
intellectually at those fancy parties at Versailles-sur-Hudson, Mc- 
Carthyism is the revenge of the noses that for twenty years of fancy 
parties were pressed against the outside window pane. 

In Populist-Progressive days and in New Deal days, those same 
noses were pressed with openly radical, openly lower-class resent- 
ment. During 1953 and 1954, the same noses snorted triumphantly 
with right-wing Republicanism. This demagogue's spree of symboli- 
cally decapitating America's intellectual and social upper class, but 
doing so while shouting a two hundred per cent upper-class ideology, 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 137 

suggests that McCarthyism is actually a leftist instinct beHnd a self- 
deceptive rightist veneer. This combination bolsters the self-esteem 
of sons of Democratic urban day laborers whose status rose into 
stuffy Republican suburbia. Their status rose thanks to the Com- 
munism-preventing social reforms of Roosevelt Here for once is a 
radicalism expressing not poverty but sudden prosperity, biting the 
New Deal hand that fed it. 

What figure represents the transition, the missing link, between 
the often noble, idealistic Populist-Progressives (like that truly noble 
idealist, La Follette) and the degeneration of that movement into 
something so different, so bigoted as McCarthyism? According to 
my hypothesis, that transition, that missing link is Father Charles 
Coughlin, All liberals know that Coughlin ended by defending Hitler 
in World War II and preaching the vilest anti-Semitism. They some- 
times forget that Coughlin began his career by preaching social re- 
forms to the left of the New Deal; his link with Populism and 
western Progressivism emerges from the fact that Coughlin's chief 
panacea was the old Populist panacea of "free silver," as a weapon 
against Wall Street bankers, eastern seaboard intellectuals, and in- 
ternationalists, three groups hated alike by democratic Populists and 
by semi-fascist Coughlinites. And Coughlin's right-wing fascist anti- 
Semitism sounds word for word the same as the vile tirades against 
"Jewish international bankers" by the left-wing egalitarian Popu- 
list, Ignatius Donnelly. 

On the surface, Senators like Wheeler and Nye (originally Pro- 
gressives and campaigners for La Follette) seemed to reverse them- 
selves completely when they shifted in a shift partly similar to 
Coughlin's from "liberal" Progressives to "reactionary" America 
Firsters. But basically they never changed at all; throughout, they 
remained passionately Anglophobe, GermanopMle, isolationist, and 
anti-eastern-seaboard, first under leftist and then under rightist pre- 
texts. Another example is Senator McCarran, who died in 1954. 
McCarran ended as a McCarthyite Democrat, hating the New Deal 
more than did any Republican. This same McCarran had been 
an eager New Dealer in 1933, voting for the Wagner Act and even 
for the NRA. Yet throughout these changes, he remained consistently 
anti-internationalist, anti-British, anti-eastern-intellectual. 

Broadening the generalization, we may tentatively conclude: the 
entire midwest Old Guard Republican wing of today, journalistically 
or vulgarly referred to as "conservative," does not merit that word 

138 The Radical Right 

at all. Theirs is not the traditional conservatism of a Winston 
Churchill or of a Burke or of our own Federalist papers. Theirs is 
not true American conservatism in the sense in which Irving Bab- 
bitt defines indirect democracy (in his great book Democracy and 
Leadership), as opposed to plebiscitarian, Tom Painean direct 
democracy. "Conservative" is no proper label for western Old Guard 
Republicans, nor for their incongruous allies among the status-crav- 
ing, increasingly prosperous, but socially insecure immigrants in 
South Boston and 'the non-elite part of the east. What all these groups 
are at heart is the same old isolationist, Anglophobe, Germanophile 
revolt of radical Populist lunatic-fringers against the eastern, edu- 
cated, Anglicized elite. Only this time it is a Populism gone sour; 
this time it lacks the generous, idealistic, social reformist instincts 
which partly justified the original Populists. 

Many of our intellectual aristocrats have helped to make the Me- 
Carthyite attack on themselves a success by denouncing McCarthy- 
ism as a rightist movement, a conservative movement. At first they 
even denounced it as a Red-baiting, anti-Communist movement, 
which is exactly what it wanted to be denounced as. By now they 
have at least caught on to the fact that it is not anti-Communist, has 
not trapped a single Red spy whether at Fort Monmouth, the 
Voice of America, or the State Department and is a major cause 
of the increased neutralism in Europe, McCarthy being the "Typhoid 
Mary" of anti-Americanism. 

But although American liberals have now realized that McCarthy- 
ism is not anti-Communist (which is more than many American 
businessmen and Republicans have realized), they have still not 
caught on to the full and deep-rooted extent of its radical anti- 
conservatism. That is because they are steeped in misleading anal- 
ogies with the very different context of Europe and of the European 
kind of fascism. Partly they still overlook the special situation in 
America, where the masses are more bourgeois than the bourgeoisie. 
I am speaking in terms of psychology, not only of economics. A lot 
more is involved psychologically in the American ideal of the mass 
man than the old economic boast (a smug and shallow boast) that 
simply "everybody" is "so prosperous" in America. "Every man a 
king" is not true of America today. Rather, every man is a king ex- 
cept the kings. 

The real kings (the cultural elite that would rank first in any 
traditional hierarchy of the Hellenic-Roman West) are now becom- 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 139 

ing declassed scapegoats: the eggheads. The fact that they partly 
brought that fate on themselves by fumbling the Communist issue 
does not justify their fate, especially as the sacred civil liberties of 
everybody, the innocent as much as the guilty, must suffer for that 

America is the country where the masses won't admit they are 
masses. Consequently America is the country where the thought- 
controllers can self-deceptively "make like" patriotic pillars of re- 
spectability instead of admitting what they are: revolutionaries of 
savage direct democracy (Napoleon plus Rousseau plus Tom Paine 
plus the Wild West frontier) against the traditional, aristocratic 
courts and Constitution and against the protection of minority in- 
tellectual elites by the anti-majoritarian Bill of Rights. The Mc- 
Carthyites threaten liberty precisely because they are so egalitarian, 
ruling foreign policy by mass telegrams to the Executive Branch 
and by radio speeches and Gallup Poll. The spread of democratic 
equal rights facilitates, as Nietzsche prophesied, the equal violation 
of rights. 

Is liberte incompatible with sudden egalite? It was, as people used 
to say in the Thirties, "no accident that" an American Legion meet- 
ing in New York in July, 1954, passed two resolutions side by side 
the first condemning another Legion branch for racial discrimination 
(the "Forty and Eight" society) and the second endorsing McCar- 
thyism. This juxtaposition is noted not in order to disparage the long 
overdue anti-bigotry of the first resolution. Rather, the juxtaposition 
is noted in order to caution the oversimplifying optimism of many 
liberal reformers who have been assuming that the fight for free 
speech and the fight for racial tolerance were synonymous. 

Admittedly not aE nationalist bigots have yet "caught on" to the 
more lucrative new trend of their own racket. Many will continue 
to persecute racial minorities as viciously as in the past, though 
surely decreasingly and with less profit. Because of the Southern 
atmosphere of Washington, the anti-segregation resolution could not 
be repeated when the Legion met there a month later. 

Often untypical or tardy about new trends, the South is more 
opposed to the good cause of Negro rights and to the bad cause of 
McCarthyism than the rest of the nation. One Southerner (I am not 
implying that he represents the majority of the South) told me he 
regards as Communistic the defenders of the civil liberties of any 
of our several racial minorities; then he went on to reproach the 

140 The Radical Right 

North for "not fighting for its civil liberties against that fascist Mc- 

The same day I heard that statement, I read an account of a 
McCarthy mass meeting in the North at which racial discrimination 
was denounced as un-American and in which anyone defending civil 
liberties against McCarthy was called Communistic, At the same 
meeting, a rabbi accused the opposition to Roy Cohn of anti-Semitic 
intolerance. Next, Cohn's was called "the American Dreyfus Case" 
by a representative of a student McCarthyite organization, Students 
for America. This young representative of both McCarthyism and 
racial brotherhood concluded amid loud applause: "Roy Cohn and 
Joe McCarthy will be redeemed when the people have taken back 
their government from the criminal alliance of Communists, Socialists, 
New Dealers, and the Eisenhower-Dewey Republicans." 

This outburst of direct democracy 1 comes straight from the leftist 
rhetoric of the old Populists and Progressives, a rhetoric forever 
urging the People to take back "their" government from the conspir- 
ing Powers That Be. What else remained but for Rabbi Schultz, at a 
second Cohn-McCarthy dinner, to appeal to "the plain people of 
America" to "march on Washington" in order to save, with direct 
democracy, their tribune McCarthy from the big bosses of the Senate 
censure committee? 

Bigotry's New Look is perhaps best evidenced by McCarthy's ab- 
stention, so far, from anti-Semitic and anti-Negro propaganda and, 
more important, by countless similar items totally unconnected 
with the ephemeral McCarthy. A similar juxtaposition occurs in a 
typical New York Times headline of September 4, 1954, page one: 

STERS BAN ON BIAS. Moving beyond that relatively middle-of-the- 
road area to the extremist fringe, note the significant change in 
"For America." This nationalist group is a xenophobic and isolationist 
revival of the old America First Committee. But instead of appeas- 
ing the open Nazis who then still ruled Germany, as in the 
old-fashioned and blunter days of Father Coughlin, "For America" 
began greatly expanding its mass base in 1954 by "quietly convassing 
Jewish and Negro prospects." 

And so it goes. From these multiplying examples we may tenta- 
tively generalize: Manifestations of ethnic intolerance today tend 
to decrease in proportion as ideological intolerance increases. In 
sharp contrast, both bigotries previously used to increase together. 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 141 

If sociologists require a new term for this change (as if there 
were not enough jargon already), then at least let it be a brief, un- 
ponderous term. I would suggest the word "transtolerance" for 
this curious interplay between the new tolerance and the new in- 
tolerance. Transtolerance is ready to give all minorities their glorious 
democratic freedom provided they accept McCarthyism or some 
other mob conformism of Right or Left. I add "or Left" because 
liberals sometimes assume conformism is inevitably of the Right* Yet 
"Right" and "Left" are mere fluctuating pretexts, mere fluid sur- 
faces for the deeper anti-individualism (anti-aristocracy) of the mass 
man, who ten years ago was trying to thought-control our premature 
anti-Communists as "warmongers" and who today damns them as 
"Reds" and who ten years from now, in a new appeasement of 
Russia, may again be damning them as "Wall Street warmongers" 
and "disloyal internationalist bankers." 

Transtolerance is the form that xenophobia takes when practiced 
by a "xeno" Transtolerant McCarthyism is partly a movement of 
recent immigrants who present themselves (not so much to the 
world as to themselves) as a two hundred per cent hate-the-foreigner 
movement. And by extension: Hate "alien" ideas. Transtolerance is 
also a sublimated Jim Crow: against "wrong" thinkers, not "wrong" 
races. As such, it is a Jim Crow that can be participated in with a 
clear conscience by the new, non-segregated flag-waving Negio, who 
will be increasingly emerging from the increased egalitarian laws 
in housing and education. In the same way it is the Irishman's version 
of Mick-baiting and a strictly kosher anti-Semitism. It veiy sincerely 
champions against anti-Semites "that American Dreyfus, Roy Cohn"; 
simultaneously it glows with the same mob emotions that in all 
previous or comparable movements have been anti-Semitic. 

The final surrealist culmination of this new development would be 
for the Ku Klux Klan to hold non-segregated lynching bees. 

At the same moment when America fortunately is nearer racial 
equality than ever before (an exciting gain, insufficiently noted by 
American-baiters in Europe and India), America is moving further 
from liberty of opinion. "Now remember, boys, tolerance and equal- 
ity," my very progressive schoolma'am in high school used to preach, 
"come from cooperation in some common task." If Orwell's 1984 
should ever come to America, you can guess what "some common 
task" will turn out to be. Won't it be a "team" (as they will obviously 
call it) of "buddies" from "all three religions'* plus the significantly 

142 The Radical Right 

increasing number of Negro McCarthyites, all "cooperating" in the 
"common task" of burning books on civil liberties or segregating 
all individualists of "all three" religions? 

It required Robespierre to teach French intellectuals that ega- 
lite is not synonymous with liberte* Similarly, Joseph McCarthy is 
the educator of the educators; by his threat to our lawful liberties, 
he is educating America intellectuals out of a kind of liberalism and 
back to a kind of conservatism. The inteEectual liberals who twenty 
years ago wanted to pack the Supreme Court as frustrating the will 
of the masses (which is exactly what it ought to frustrate) and 
who were quoting Charles Beard to show that the Constitution is a 
mere rationalization of economic loot those same liberals today 
are hugging for dear life that same court and that same Constitution, 
including its Fifth Amendment. They are hugging those two most 
conservative of "outdated" institutions as their last life preservers 
against the McCarthyite version of what their Henry Wallaces used 
to call "the century of the common man." 

Our right to civil liberties, our right to an unlimited non-violent 
dissent, is as ruggedly conservative and traditional as Senator Flan- 
ders and the mountains of Vermont. It is a right so aristocratic that 
it enables one lonely individual, sustained by nine non-elected nobles 
in black robes, to think differently from 99.9 per cent of the nation, 
even if a majority of "all races, creeds, and colors," in an honest 
democratic election, votes to suppress the thinking of that one in- 

But what will happen to that individual and Ms liberties if ever 
the 99,9 per cent unite in direct democracy to substitute, as final 
arbiter of law, the white sheets for the black robes? 


Asians and Europeans ought never to confuse genuine American 
anti-Communism, a necessary shield for peace and freedom against 
aggression, with the pseudo-anti-Communism of the demagogues, 
which is not anti-Communism at all but a racket. American anti- 
Communism, in the proper sense of the term, usually turns out to be 
a surprisingly sober and reasonable movement, fair-minded and 
sincerely dedicated to civil liberties. Indeed, when you consider the 
disappointed hopes and the murderous provocations suffered by an 
unprepared public opinion in the five years between Yalta illusions 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 143 

and Korean casualty lists, there emerges a reality more typical and 
impressive than the not-to-be-minimized existence of racketeers and 
thou^it-controllers; and that impressive reality is the sobriety, the 
reasonableness of America's genuine anti-Communists, whether 
Eisenhower, Stevenson or Norman Thomas. 

Pro-Communist periodicals in Europe have been linking Ameri- 
can anti-Communists and McCarthy, as if there were some neces- 
sary connection. The zany rumor that McCarfhyism is anti-Com- 
munism may be spread by honest ignorance, but it may also be 
spread maliciously: to give anti-Communism a bad name abroad, to 
make anti-Communism as intellectually disreputable as it seemed 
during the Popular Front era. But the fact that pro-Communists find 
it strategic to link the McCarthy methods with American anti- 
Communism is no reason for our American anti-Communists to do 
so, or to allow even the hint of such a linkage to continue. 

To move to a different but overlapping problem: There is likewise 
no reason for philosophical conservatives (disciples of Burke, Cole- 
ridge, Tocqueville, Irving Babbitt and the Federalists, rather than of 
President McKinley or Neville Chamberlain) to condone even the 
hint of any linkage between our philosophical conservatism and 
that rigor mortis of Manchester liberalism known as the Old Guard 
of the Republican Party. 

I now propose to develop the above two generalizations. First, if 
McCarthyism does not represent anti-Communism, what does it rep- 
resent? Second, if the present Republican Party does not merit the 
support of philosophical (Burkean or Federalist) conservatives, 
then who does merit that support in 1956? 

To a certain extent, the new nationalist toughness ("McCarthy- 
ism") is the revenge of those who felt snubbed in 1928, when the 
man with the brown derby lost the election, and who felt snubbed 
a second time in 1932, when the nomination went to Ms victorious 
rival from Groton and Harvard. 

But even more important than that old wound (the Irish Catholic 
role in McCarthyism being intolerantly overstressed by its liberal 
foes) is the McCarthy-Dirksen-Bricker coalition of nationalism, Asia 
Firstism and Europe-Last isolationism; and what is this coalition but 
a Midwest hick-Protestant revenge against that same "fancy" and 
condescending east? That revenge is sufficiently emotional to unite 
a radical wing with a reactionary wing. The revenge-emotion of Mc- 
Carthyism has united the old Midwest Populist instincts on the down- 

144 The Radical Right 

with-everybody Left (barn-burners from way back and distrusters 
of Anglicized highbrow city-slickers) with the rich Chicago Tribune 
nationalists on the authoritarian Right. Both these Midwest groups 
are Protestant, not Catholic. Both are against an east viewed as 
Europe First and Asia Last shorthand for an east viewed as 
aristocratic, internationalist, overeducated, and metaphorically (if 
rarely literally) Grotonian. 

By itself and without allies, the resentment of lower-middle-class 
Celtic South Boston against Harvard (simultaneous symbol of Reds 
and Wall Street plutocrats) was relatively powerless. (Note that no 
serious mass movement like McCarthy's was achieved by the earlier 
outburst of that resentment in Coughlinism.) It was only when the 
South Boston resentment coalesced with the resentment of flag-waving 
Chicago isolationists and newly-rich Protestant Texans (still denied 
entree into the chicte of Wall Street) that the American seaboard 
aristocracy was seriously threatened in its domination of both gov- 
ernmental and intellectual public opinion and in its domination of 
its special old-school-tie preserve, the Foreign Service. Against the 
latter, the old Populist and La Follette weapon against diplomats of 
"you internationalist Anglophile snob" was replaced by the deadlier 
weapon of "you egghead security-risk" meaning, as the case might 
be, alleged unbeliever and subverter or alleged homosexual or al- 
leged tippler and babbler. All of these allegations have been made 
for centuries by pseudo-wholesome, "pious" peasants against "effete" 

What is at stake in this revolt? Liberty or mere economic profit? 
Probably neither. Nobody in any mass movement on any side in any 
country is really willing to bear the burden of liberty (which is why 
liberty is preserved not by mass-will nor by counting noses but by 
tiny, heroic natural-aristocracies and by the majesty beyond mob 
majorities of moral law). As for economic profit, there is enough 
of that lying around in lavish America to keep both sides happily 
glutted, in defiance of both Marx and Adam Smith, Instead, the true 
goal of both sides the McCarthyite rebels and the seaboard aristoc- 
racy is the psychological satisfaction of determining the future 
value-pattern of American society. 

As a pretext for its drive toward this true goal, the first side uses 
"anti-Communism." (Falsely so, because nothing would please the 
Communists more than a victory of the Bricker, McCarthy and Chi- 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 145 

cago Tribune side, thereby isolating America from Western Europe.) 
As a counter-pretext, the second side uses "civil liberties." 

The latter is not solely a pretext but valid enough at the mo- 
ment, now that this side is seeing Its own ox being gored. But ulti- 
mately much of its oratory about civil liberties rings as false as that 
of self-appointed anti-Communism,, if only you consider the silence 
of the second side about "civil liberties" when the gored ox was not 
their own pet Foreign Service aristocrats and professors but the 
violated civil liberties of thousands of interned Japanese-Americans 
during World War H or the Minneapolis Trotskyites jailed under the 
Smith Act (in both cases under Roosevelt), not to mention the hair- 
raising precedent of currently denying a passport to the anti-Stalinist 
Marxist, Max Schachtman. With some honorable exceptions, the in- 
ternment of friendless Japanese-Americans, of un-"forward-looking n 
conscientious objectors and of presumably un-cMc Trotskyites has 
evoked fewer decibels of "witch-hunt, witch-hunt!" from fashionable 
liberals, fewer sonorous quotations of what Jefferson wrote to Madi- 
son about free minds, than does the current harassing of a more re- 
spectably bourgeois and salonfahig ex-Stalinoid from the Institute 
of Pacific Relations. Thus does snobbism take precedence over ideol- 
ogy in the conformism known as "anti-conformism." 

In every American community, picture some eagle scout of "anti- 
Communism" battling some village Hampden of "civil liberties.** 
What a spectacle! Insincerity or self-deception on both sides. 

WMch of the two unattractive alternatives can be sufficiently im- 
proved and matured to become not merely a lesser evil but a positive 
good? Since the noble pretexts of both sides ring so hollow, why do 
I favor (while retaining an independent third position) a victory by 
the second of these two sides? Not for its beaux yeux not, that is, 
for its comic snobbism, its mutually contradictory brands of "pro- 
gressive" political chic, avant-garde cultural chic, and Eastern- 
college, country-club social chic. Even its trump card, namely, the 
ethical superiority to McCarthyism of its upper-class educated liber- 
als, remains badly compromised by the 1930s the silence, because 
of expediency, during the Moscow Trials and the business-baiting 
McCarthyism-of-the-Left of too many New Deal agitations and in- 
vestigations. Still, despite everything, the heritage known as "New 
England" (a moral rather than sectional term and diffused through 
all sections) does inspiringly combine the two things that mean most 

146 The Radical Right 

to me in determining my choice: respect for the free mind and re- 
spect for the moral law. 

This combination of moral duty and liberty may by 1956 have a 
new birth of nationwide appeal, owing to the providential emergence 
of the leadership of Adlai Stevenson, a blender of New England and 
Middle West, an intellectual uncompromised by Popular Frontist illu- 
sions or by the era of Yalta appeasement. 

No "great man" theories, no determinism: Let us take Stevenson 
merely as symbolizing imperfectly a still potential goal, a new era 
that may or may not be attained by Ms very diverse followers. For 
intellectuals, he symbolizes the mature outgrowing and discarding of 
what in part was their bad and silly era. A bad era insofar as they 
sacrificed ethical means to a progress achieved by Machiavellian 
social engineering. (Defined metaphysically, the ethical double 
standard of many toward Russia was a logical consequence of the 
initial false step of seeking a short-cut to material progress outside 
the moral framework.) A silly era insofar as they alternated this ex- 
pediency with the opposite extreme, that of idealistic a priori 
blueprints and abstractions; these lack the concrete context of any 
mature, organically evolved idealism. An oscillation between these 
extremes was likewise characteristic of the eighteenth-century liberal 
intellectuals, oscillating between impractical utopian'yearnings and 
an all-too-practical softness (double standard) toward Jacobin social 

Here is one extremely small but revealing example of the new, 
maturer kind of inteEectual leadership; Stevenson did not have his 
name listed to endorse the Nation magazine (that Last Mohican 
from the liberal illusions of the 1930s), even though such routine 
endorsements in past years came automatically from the highest lib- 
eral intellectuals and New Dealers. Today, most liberal intellectuals 
have learned to distinguish between the "liberalism" of certain 
double-standard Nation experts (even while rightly defending their 
free speech against McCarthyism or thought control) and the valid 
liberalism of, say, the New Republic, The Progressive, or the Re- 
porter. Five years ago, when I began writing the chapter about the 
Nation in Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals, that ethical distinc- 
tion was still unclear to most liberal intellectuals. How much saner 
America would be today if those businessmen who would like to be 
"conservatives" had some Republican version of Mr. Stevenson to 
teach them the comparable quality of distinguishing between en- 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 147 

dorsing genuine anti-Communism and endorsing the "anti-Commu- 
nism" of the McCarthys, Jenners and Dirksens! 

What businessman today whether in the New York-Detroit axis 
or even in Chicago Tribuneland sees anything radical or even lib- 
eral about the SEC or insurance of bank deposits? These and other 
New Deal cushionings of capitalism have become so traditional, so 
built-in a part of our eastern business communities that their old 
feud with the New Deal becomes a fading anachronism, a feud 
dangerous only if it still hampers their support of Eisenhower's "New 
Deal Republicans" against the isolationist nationalist Republicans. 

Though the partly unintentional effect of such New Deal reforms 
has been conservative, this does not mean we can go to the opposite 
extreme and call the New Deal as a whole conservative. In contrast 
with its Communism-preventing social reforms, its procedures of agi- 
tational direct democracy were occasionally as radical as the business 
world alleged them to be, by-passing the Supreme Court, the Con- 
stitution, and -the rest of our indirect democracy. Further, the Popu- 
lar Front attitude of expediency toward the sheer evil of Commu- 
nism, though it mesmerized New Deal talkers in New York more 
than actual New Deal doers in Washington, was as radical an anti- 
ethics on the Left as is on the Right the similar anti-ethics of a 
Popular Front with McCarihyism. 

It is the bad and silly aspects of the New Deal, the procedural 
and unethical aspects, which have been rightly outgrown in new 
leaders like Stevenson, who rightly retain the valuable humane and 
conservative aspects. This refreshing development, by which un- 
like its nationalist Republican foes a fallible movement outgrows 
its own errors, is the decisive argument for supporting Stevenson and 
the Democrats in the Presidential election of 1956. The same sup- 
port was actually earned by them already in 1952, but less obviously 
then, owing to the then legitimate hope that Eisenhower could help 
the Republicans to similarly outgrow their errors. 

Despite the magnificent personal intentions of our decent and 
kindly President, the present Republican Administration when 
considered as a whole, Knowland, Nixon and all has obviously 
failed to evoke a world-minded, responsible American conservatism. 
Instead, the Republican leadership has left to others (like the bipar- 
tisan Watkins Committee) its own plain duty of restraining its wild 
men of the Right, whose- activity was defined by the ever perceptive 
Will Herberg (New Leader, January 18, 1954) as "government by 

148 The Radical Right 

rabble-rousing, the very opposite of a new conservatism." Such rev- 
olutionary agitators would never be tolerated in the more truly con- 
servative party of Eden, Butler and Churchill. 

A conservative kind of government would bring the following 
qualities: a return to established ways, relaxation of tension and 
calm confidence, reverence for the Constitution and every single one 
of its time-hallowed amendments and liberties, orderly gradualism, 
protection of the Executive Branch from outside mob pressure. The 
conservative kind of government would bring an increased respect 
even to the point of pompous stuffiness for time-honored authority 
and for venerable dignitaries. Specifically, that would mean an in- 
creased respect for such dignitaries as Justices of the Supreme Court, 
famous generals decorated for heroism or with a Nobel Prize for 
statesmanship, past Presidents (because of the impersonal dignity of 
that office and because of the traditionalist's need of historical con- 
tinuity), and any present President and his top appointments, es- 
pecially in such a snobbishly aristocratic preserve as the Foreign 
Service. The above qualities are the stodgier virtues. They are not 
invariably a good thing, nor is conservatism in every context a good 
thing. All I am saying is that these happen to be the qualities of con- 
servative rule, and the Republican Administration has not brougjit 
us a single one of them. 

The Democrats were voted out of office partly because the coun- 
try was fed up (and rightly so) with certain of the more radical 
notions and agitations of the New Deal 1930s. Yet, it now appears, 
by contrast, that those now-nostalgic "twenty years of treason" gave 
America a bit more of old-fashioned conservative virtues than the 
present self-styled anti-soap-boxing of Republican soapboxers. 

Unless one of two unexpected events occurs, the Republican Party 
has forfeited its claim to retain in 1956 those decisive votes of non- 
partisan independents which gave it victory in 1952. The unexpected 
events are either a far firmer assertion of presidential leadership 
over the anti-Eisenhower barn-burners and wild men in the Senate, 
or else their secession into a radical third party. If either of these 
blessings occurs, there will again be good reason for independents 
to vote for Eisenhower: on moral grounds if he asserts his leader- 
ship, on strategic grounds if there is a McCarthy third party. The 
latter would save the Republicans in the same unexpected way that 
the secession of pro-Communists into the Progressive Party saved 
Truman in 1948. 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 149 

If neither of these unlikely blessings occurs for the Republicans, 
then the last remaining obstacle has been cleared away for all 
thoughtful conservatives and independents, as well as liberals and 
Democrats, to support Adlai Stevenson for President in 1956. 
Though neither giddy optimism nor personal hero-worship is in 
order, at least there is a good chance in proportion to our own 
efforts to make it a good chance that a Stevenson party, out- 
growing the bad and the silly aspects of the 1930s will lead 
America beyond the two false alternatives of Babbitt Senior Repub- 
licans and Babbitt Junior liberals. Ahead potentially lies an Ameri- 
can synthesis of Mill with Burke, of liberal free dissent with con- 
servative roots in historical continuity. 

Of two American alternatives with bad records, the slanderous 
wild nationalists and the sometimes double-standard civil-libertar- 
ians, only the second alternative is capable of outgrowing a bad and 
silly past. The 1956 elections can bring it a better and wiser future 
under the better and wiser intellectualism of Stevenson. Here ends 
a cycle once partly symbolized by Alger Hiss ("a generation on 
trial"). Here, symbolized by Adlai Stevenson, begins potentially a 
new cycle of the glory, not the shame, of the eggheads. 


In view of America's present mood of prosperous moderation, the 
McCarthy revolution and all other extremes of right and left will al- 
most certainly lose. All that might rescue them is the emotionalism 
that would accompany a lost or costly war in China. But, luckily, the 
stakes are neither that high nor that desperate. America is no Wei- 
mar Republic, and McCarthyism tends to be more a racket than a 
conspiracy, more a cruel publicity hoax (played on Fort Mon- 
mouth, the Voice of America, the State Department) than a serious 
"fascist" or war party. Despite demagogic speeches ("speak loudly 
and carry a small stick"), the nationalist wing of the Republicans 
cares no more about really blockading and fighting the Red Chinese 
despotism than Hamlet's vehement player cared about Hecuba. Our 
indispensable European allies need not fear that Americans, even our 
nationalist wild men, will become preventive-warriors or trigger- 
happy. The struggle to be the new American ruling (taste-determin- 
ing) class is a domestic struggle, in which foreign policy and Our 

150 The Radical Right 

Boys in China merely furnish heartless slogans to embarrass the 

older ruling class. 

In this struggle, two points emerge about diction: First, "national- 
ism" is less often a synonym of "national interest" than an antonym; 
second, no alchemy has yet been invented by which a loud repetition 
of the word "anti-Communism" transforms a Yahoo into a Houyhn- 


That the McCarthy movement normally accuses only non-Com- 
munists of "Communism" is one of the main rules of the game. Why? 
Not because the Communist menace to America has decreased (it 
has increased since Malenkov), but because McCarthy is not after 
the scalps of Communists in the first place but after the scalps of 
all those traditionalists who, like Senators Watkins and Flanders, 
favor government by law. And the reason why emotional McCarthy- 
ism, more by instinct than design, simply must be against tradition- 
alists, conservatives and government-by-law is explained by its 
unadmitted but basic revolutionary nature. It is a radical movement 
trying to overthrow an old ruling class and replace it from below 
by a new ruling class. 

I use "ruling class'* not in the rigid Marxist sense but to mean the 
determiners of culture patterns, taste patterns, value patterns. For in 
America classes are fluid, unhereditary, and more psychological than 
economic. As suggested earlier, our old ruling class includes eastern, 
educated, mellowed wealth internationalist and at least superficially 
liberalized, like the Achesons of Wall Street or the Paul Hoffmans 
of the eastemized fraction of Detroit industrialists. The new 
would-be rulers include unmellowed plebeian western wealth (Chi- 
cago, Texas, much of Detroit) and their enormous, gullible mass- 
base: the nationalist alliance between the sticks and the slums, 
between the hick-Protestant mentalities in the west (Populist-Pro- 
gressive on the Left, Know-Nothing on the Right) and the South 
Boston mentalities in the east. The latter are, metaphorically, an un- 
explored underground catacomb, long smoldering against the airy, 
oblivious palaces of both portions (liberal and Wall Street) of the 
eastern upper world. 

Nobody except McCarthy personally can bridge this incongruous 
alliance of sticks and slums, and likewise span both sides of their re- 
spective religions. Too many commentators assume that the cen- 
sured McCarthy, being increasingly discredited, will now be replaced 
by a smoother operator, by a more reliably Republican type like 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 151 

Nixon. To be sure, an Arrow collar ad like Nixon, eager-eyed, clean- 
shaven and grinning boyishly while he assesses the precise spot for 
the stiletto, is socially more acceptable in the station-wagons of all 
kinds of junior executives on the make. However, even though the 
Vice President's tamer version of the McCarthy drama would flut- 
ter more lorgnettes in respectable suburbia, that gain would be coun- 
terbalanced by the loss of the still more numerous South Boston 
mentalities. The latter would thereupon revert to the Democratic 
party, from which only a "proletarian/* non-Protestant McCarthy, 
never a bourgeois Rotarian Nixon, can lure them. 

A fact insufficiently stressed is that McCarthy himself was origi- 
nally a member of the Wisconsin "Democrat Party." The otherwise 
similar Senator Pat McCarran preferred to remain, at least nomi- 
nally, a Democrat to the end. Here, clearly, is a function of voter- 
wooing namely, wooing to Republicanism the slummier part of the 
thought-control bloc which only a McCarthy and not even the 
most "glamorous" Nixon or Dirksen can perform for the wealthy, 
suburban, Republican anti-civil-libertarians. I would, therefore, dis- 
agree with AdM Stevenson when he equates Nixon's appeal with 

No one but McCarthy can combine these incompatibles of Cath- 
olic slums and Protestant sticks into one movement, not to mention 
scooping up en passant the scattered lunatic fringes that emerged 
from anti-anti-Fascist isolationism during World War H Therefore, 
it is premature to write McCarthy off as finished. What will indeed 
destroy him in the long run is the fact that his organizing ability does 
not keep pace with his publicizing ability, and that the left (New 
Deal) and right (Wall Street) wings of the old aristocracy can today 
partly team up whenever they need to protect their common inter- 
ests. The wealthy Wall Street lawyer Acheson symbolized this 
team-up under Truman and was hated for it; his aristocratic, old- 
school-tie, Anglicized mannerisms were a Red flag to the Mc- 
Carthyite plebeian revolution. 

The New Deal and Wall Street battled in the 1930s when their 
imagined interests seemed irreconcilable. (I say "imagined" and 
"seemed" because it was hardly a threat to Wall Street when the 
New Deal reforms immunized workers against that lure of Com- 
munism to which French workers succumbed.) But the common 
Anglophilism of the internationalist, educated eastern seaboard 
united them (fortunately for the cause of liberty) on the interven- 

152 The Radical Right 

tionist, anti-Nazi side during World War II. And, by today, the New 
Deal reforms bave become so deeply rooted and traditional a part 
of the status quo, so conservative in a relative (though not absolute) 
sense, that the new plebeian money from the Midwest can no longer 
count on a split between social chic (eastern money in New Canaan 
and Long Island) and progressive chic (cliches of "forwards-looking 
uplift) . Whether under Eisenhower Republicans or Stevenson Dem- 
ocrats, there will be no such split. And, unless there is a lost war, this 
partial unity between the financial and the liberal wings of aristoc- 
racy will fortunately smash the McCarthyite plebeian insurrection of 
"direct democracy" (government by mass meetings and telegrams) . 

The partial rapprochement between Wall Street and a now mid- 
dle-aged New Deal is evidenced by the many recent books by vet- 
eran New Dealers oil the advantages of enlightened "bigness" in 
business books, for example, by David Lilienthal, J. K. Galbraith 
and Adolf Berle. These three valuable writers I profoundly admire 
on most points, but I disagree on the following rhetorical question: 
While fully recognizing the harmful snob-motives of the medieval 
feudal mind, was there not, nevertheless, some sound moral core 
within its "reactionary" distrust of the cash-nexus bourgeois? 

Are liberal intellectuals, in a mirror-image of their former Left 
Bank stance, now suddenly to become joiners, good sports, success- 
worshipers, members of The Team? Will it next be a triumph of 
their adaptability to suffer in silence, without the old "holy indigna- 
tion/' the spectacle of a Republican auto dealer patronizing a great 
scientist as if he were his clerk instead of approaching him cap in 
hand? In that case, who on earth, if not the intellectuals, will resist 
the periodic stampedes to entrust American culture to the manipula- 
tors of gadgets? This resistance to stampedes ought to express not 
the conformism of "non-conformism," flaunted to pose as a devil of 
a fellow, but the sensitivity of a deeper and finer grain, an ear 
conforming not to bandwagon-tunes but to the finer, older, deeper 
rhythms of American culture. 

A few years ago> liberal intellectuals were reproaching me for 
refusing to bait Big Business and today (in several cases) for re- 
fusing to equate it with Santa Claus. Why do either? Business-bait- 
ing was and is a cheap bohemian flourish, a wearing of one's soulful- 
ness on one's sleeve, and no substitute for seriously analyzing the 
real problem: namely, the compulsion of modern technics (whether 

The Revolt Against the Elite 1955 153 

under capitalist bigness or a socialist bigness) to put know-how be- 
fore know-why. 

When the alternative is the neo-PopuHst barn-burners from Wis- 
consin and Texas, naturally I ardently prefer Big Business, espe- 
cially a noblesse-tiblig&tQd and New Dealized Big Business. For its 
vanity (desire to seem sophisticated) makes a point of allowing a 
lot more elbowroom to the free mind. But what a choice! AH 
America's great creative spirits of the past, like Melville (who spoke 
of "the impieties of Progress") and conservative Henry Adams, 
would turn in their graves, as indignantly as would liberal Abraham 
Lincoln, at even the hint that no noble third alternative remained 
for a nation boasting of itself as the freest on earth. 

Insofar as they refute the old Stalinist lie about America's imagi- 
nary mass poverty and the imaginary prosperity of the Soviet slave 
kennels, let us welcome the belated liberal conversions to anti-busi- 
ness-baiting. But what when they go to the other extreme of white- 
washing almost everything, from the old robber barons to the new 
"bigness?" What when the paeans to economic prosperity ignore the 
psychological starvation, the cultural starvation, the mechanized 
mediocrity of too-efficient bigness? At that point, the value-conserver 
must protest: Judge our American elephantiasis of know-how not 
solely in contrast with the unspeakably low values of Soviet Com- 
munism but also in contrast with our own high anti-commercial 
traditions of Hawthorne, Melville and Thoreau, all of whom knew 
well enough that the railroad rides upon us, not we on the railroad. 

Where the Communist police state is the alternative, let us con- 
tinue to emphasize that American Big Business is an incomparably 
lesser evil. But beyond that special situation no further concessions, 
least of all unnecessary ones. Let us frankly embrace as enjoyable 
conveniences the leisure and services resulting from IBM efficiency. 
But must the embrace be corybantic? Shall intellectuals positively 
wallow in abdicating before a bigness which admittedly gives Ameri- 
cans economic prosperity and, at present, a relative political freedom 
but which robotizes them into a tractable, pap-fed, Reader's-Digested 
and manipulated mass-culture? 

Too utilitarian for a sense of tragic reverence or a sense of humor, 
and prone (behind "daring" progressive cliches) to an almost infinite 
smugness, one kind of bourgeois liberal is forever making quite un- 
necessary sacrifices of principle to expediency first to the fellow- 
traveling Popular Front line in the 1930s, now to the opposite line 

154 The Radical Right 

in the 1950s. But there comes a time when lasting values are con- 
served not by matey back-slapping but by wayward walks in the 
drizzle, not by seemingly practical adjustments but by the ornery 
Unadjusted Man. 

iWhat do we mean by "direct democracy" as contrasted with "indirect 
democracy?" Let us re-apply to today the conservative thesis of Madison's 
tenth Federalist paper and of Irving Babbitt's Democracy and Leadership. 

Direct democracy (our mob tradition of Tom Paine, Jacobinism, and the 
Midwestern Populist parties) is government by referendum and mass petition, 
such as the McCarthyite Committee of Ten Million, 

Indirect democracy (our semi-aristocratic and Constitutionalist tradition of 
Madison and the Federalist) likewise fulfills the will of the people but by 
filtering it through parliamentary Constitutional channels and traditional 
ethical restraints. 

Both are ultimately majority rule, and ought to be. But direct democracy, 
being immediate and hotheaded, facilitates revolution, demagogy, and Robes- 
pierrian thought control, while indirect democracy, being calmed and canalized, 
facilitates evolution, a statesmanship of noblesse oblige, and civil liberties. 


The Philosophical 

"New Conservatism' 1962 


THE AUTHOR'S preceding chapter of 1955, in the sympo- 
sium book The New American Right, treats this new right as mainly 
the right-wing radicals of McCarthyism and of Midwest neo-populist 
Republicanism. Hence, the 1955 chapter fails to deal with some- 
thing far more serious intellectually the non-McCarthyite, non- 
thought-controlling movement known as "the new conservatism." 
The latter movement, being non-popular and being burdened with 
partly merited philosophical pretensions, is restricted mainly to the 
campuses and the magazine world, even though it sometimes lends 
ghost-writers and an egghead facade to the popular political arena 

The extreme McCarthy emphasis of the 1955 chapter was justified 
in the exceptional context of the early 1950s. It is perhaps no 
longer justified in the context of this 1962 edition. As for over- 
publicized groups like the John Birch Society, fortunately they have 
no chance of attaining anything like the mass base attained by Mc- 
Carthy, Coughlin, or Huey Long. This is because they lack the dem- 
agogic populist or pseudo-socialist economic platform without 
which chauvinist thought-control movements have no chance of suc- 
cess. Note that Hitler called himself not merely a nationalist but a 
National Socialist. Note that Huey Long ("every man a king"), 
Coughlin ("free silver"), and McCarthy ("socialistic" farm subsi- 
dies) had a similar rightist-leftist amalgam rather than a purely 
rightist or nationalist platform. 

Though the pseudo-conservatism of Long-Coughlin-McCarthy 
seems dead for the time being, and though that of the John Birchers 

156 The Radical Right 

seems stillborn, the philosophical "new conservatism" is still on its 

admittedly smaller scale alive. Alive whether for better or worse, 
its merits and defects being approximately equal. Since the present 
author furnished the first postwar book of the new conservatism 
Conservatism Revisited: The Revolt Against Revolt (1949, reprinted 
by Collier Books, 1962) he bears a certain responsibility: again, 
"whether for better or worse." Hence, since the new conservatism is 
still alive and since it was not included in the preceding chapter of 
1955, the following supplementary chapter seems in order. 

In the 1930s, when the present author, still a student, was writing 
an article for the Atlantic Monthly urging "a Burkean new conserva- 
tism in America," and to some extent even as late as his Conserva- 
tism Revisited of 1949, "conservatism" was an unpopular epithet. 
In retrospect it becomes almost attractively amusing (like contem- 
plating a dated period piece) to recall how violently one was 
denounced in those days for suggesting that Burke, Calhoun, and 
Irving Babbitt were not "Fascist beasts" and that our relatively 
conservative Constitution was not really a plot-in-advance, by rich 
bogeymen like George Washington and the Federalist Party. For 
example, the author's Atlantic article, written in prewar student 
days, was denounced more because the word used ("conservative") 
was so heretical than because of any effort by the Popular Frontist 
denouncers to read what was actually said. It was the first-written 
and worst-written appeal ever published in America for what it 
called a "new" conservatism ("new" meaning non-Republican, non- 
commercialist, non-comf ormist) . This new conservatism it viewed as 
synthesizing in some future day the ethical New Deal social reforms 
with the more pessimistic, anti-mass insights of America's Burkean 
founders. Such a synthesis, argued the article, would help make the 
valuable anti-Fascist movement among literary intellectuals simulta- 
neously anti-Communist also, leaving behind the Popular Frontist 
illusions of the 1930s. 

As the liberal Robert Bendiner then put it, "Out of some 140,- 
000,000 people in the United States, at least 139,500,000 are liber- 
als, to hear them tell it. ... Rare is the citizen who can bring him- 
self to say, 'Sure I'm a conservative. 5 . . . Any American would 
sooner drop dead than proclaim himself a reactionary." In July, 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 157 

1950, a newspaper was listing the charges against a prisoner ac- 
cused of creating a public disturbance. One witness charged, "He 
was using abusive and obscene language, calling people conservatives 
and all that" 

When conservatism was still a dirty word, it seemed gallantly non- 
conformist to defend it against the big, smug liberal majority among 
one's fellow writers and professors. In those days, therefore, the 
author deemed it more helpful to stress the virtues of conservative 
thought than its faults, and this is what he did in the 1949 edition of 
Conservatism Revisited. But in the mood emerging from the 1950s, 
blunt speaking about conservatism's important defects no longer runs 
the danger of obscuring its still more important virtues. 

The main defect of the new conservatism, threatening to make it 
a transient fad irrelevant to real needs, is its rootless nostalgia for 
roots. Conservatives of living roots were Washington and Coleridge 
in their particular America and England, Mettemich in his special 
Austria, Donoso Cortes in his Spain, Calhoun in his antebellum 
South, Adenauer and Churchill in the 1950s. American conserva- 
tive writings of living roots were the Federalist of Hamilton, Madi- 
son, Jay, 1787-88; the Defense of the Constitutions of John Adams, 
1787-88; the Letters of Publicola of John Quincy Adams, 1791; 
Calhoun's Disquisition and Discourse, posthumously published in 
1850; Irving Babbitt's Democracy and Leadership, 1924. In con- 
trast, today's conservatism of yearning is based on roots either never 
existent or no longer existent. Such a conservatism of nostalgia can 
still be of high literary value. It is also valuable as an unusually de- 
tached perspective about current social foibles. But it does real harm 
when it leaves literature and enters short-run politics, conjuring up 
mirages to conceal sordid realities or to distract from them. 

In America, southern agrarianism has long been the most gifted 
literary form of the conservatism of yearning. Its most important 
intellectual manifesto was the Southern symposium I'll Take My 
Stand (1930), contrasting the cultivated human values of a lost 
aristocratic agrarianism with Northern commercialism and liberal 
materialism. At their best, these and more recent examples of the 
conservatism of yearning are needed warnings against shallow prac- 
ticality. The fact that such warnings often come from the losing side 
of our Civil War is in itself a merit; thereby they caution a nation of 
success-worshippers against the price of success. But at their worst 
such books of the 1930s, and again of today, lack the living roots of 

158 The Radical Right 

genuine conservatism and have only lifeless ones. The lifeless ones 
are really a synthetic substitute for roots, contrived by romantic nos- 
talgia. They are a test-tube conservatism, a lab job of powdered 
Burke or cake-mix Calhoua, 

Such romanticizing conservatives refuse to face up to the old and 
solid historical roots of most or much American liberalism. What is 
really rootless and abstract is not the increasingly conservatized New 
Deal liberalism but their own Utopian dream of an aristocratic agrar- 
ian restoration. Their unhistorical appeal to history, their tradition- 
less worship of tradition, characterize the conservatism of writers like 
Russell Kirk. 

In contrast, a genuinely rooted, history minded conservative con- 
serves the roots that are really there, exactly as Burke did when he 
conserved not only the monarchist-conservative aspects of Wil- 
liam Ill's bloodless revolution of 1688 but also its constitutional-lib- 
eral aspects. The latter aspects, formulated by the British philosopher 
John Locke, have been summarized in England and America ever 
since by the word "Lockean." 

Via die Constitutional Convention of 1787, this liberal-conserva- 
tive heritage of 1688 became rooted in America as a blend of Locke's 
very moderate liberalism and Burke's very moderate conservatism. 
From the rival Federalists and Jeffersonians through today, all our 
major rival parties have continued this blend, though with varied 
proportion and stress. American history is based on the resemblance 
between moderate liberalism and moderate conservatism; the history 
of Continental Europe is based on the difference between extreme 
liberalism and extreme conservatism. 

But some American new conservatives import from Continental 
Europe a conservatism that totally rejects even our moderate native 
liberalism. In the name of free speech and intellectual gadflyism, 
they are justified in expounding the indiscriminate anti-liberalism of 
hothouse Bourbons and czarist serf-floggers. But they are not justi- 
fied in calling themselves American traditionalists or in claiming any 
except exotic roots for their position in America. Let them present 
their case frankly as anti-traditional, rootless revolutionaries of Eu- 
rope's authoritarian right wing, attacking the deep-rooted American 
tradition of Hberal-conservative synthesis. Conservative authority, 
yes; right-wing authoritarianism, no. Authority means a necessary 
reverence for tradition, law, legitimism; authoritarianism means 
statist coercion based only on force ? not moral roots, and suppressing 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 159 

individual liberties in the Continental fashion of czardom, Junker- 
dom, Maistrean ultra-royalism. 

Our argument is not against importing European insights when ap- 
plicable; that would be Know-Nothing chauvinism. The more foreign 
imports the better, when capable of being assimilated: for example, 
the techniques of French symbolism in studying American poetry or 
the status-resentment theory of Nietzsche in studying the new Ameri- 
can right. But when the European view or institution is neither ap- 
plicable to the American reality nor capable of being assimilated 
therein, as is the case with the sweeping Maistre-style anti-liberalism 
and tyrannic authoritarianism of many of the new conservatives, 
then objections do become valid, not on grounds of bigoted Ameri- 
can chauvinism but on grounds of distinguishing between what can, 
what cannot, be transplanted viably and freedom-enhancingly. 

The Burkean builds on the concrete existing historical base, not 
on a vacuum of abstract wishful thinking. When, as in America, that 
concrete base includes British liberalism of the 1680s and New 
Deal reforms of the 1930s, then the real American conserver as- 
similates into conservatism whatever he finds lasting and good in 
liberalism and in the New Deal. Thereby he is closer to the Tory 
Cardinal Newman than many of Newman's American reactionary 
admirers. The latter overlook Newman's realization of the need to 
"inherit and make the best of liberalism in certain contexts: 

If I might presume to contrast Lacordaire and myself, I should say 
that we had been both of us inconsistent; he, a Catholic, in calling 
himself a Liberal; I, a Protestant, in being an Anti-liberal; and moreover, 
that the cause of this inconsistency had been in both cases one and the 
same. That is, we were both of us such good conservatives as to take 
up with what we happened to find established in our respective countries, 
at the time when we came into active life. Toryism was the creed of 
Oxford; he inherited, and made the best of, the French Revolution. 1 

How can thoughtful new conservatives, avoiding the political pit- 
falls that so many have failed to avoid, apply fruitfully to American 
life today what we have called non-political "cultural conserva- 
tism" the tradition of Melville, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Henry 
Adams, Irving Babbitt, William Faulkner? In order to conserve our 
classical humanistic values against what he called "the impieties of 
progress/* Melville had issued the following four-line warning to both 

160 The Radical Right 

kinds of American materialists: (1) the deracinating, technology- 

brandisMng industrialists; their so-called freedom and progress is 
merely the economic "individualism" of Manchester-liberal pseudo- 
conservatism; and (2) the leftist collectivists; their unity is not a 
rooted organic growth of shared values 2 but a mechanical artifact of 
apriorist blueprint abstractions, 3 imposed gashingly upon concrete 
society by a procrastean statist bureaucracy. The last-named dis- 
tinction between a unity that is grown and a unity that is made 
differentiates the anti-cash-nexus and anti-rugged-individualism of 
"Tory Socialists" (in the aristocratic Shaftesbury-Disraeli-F.D.R.- 
Stevenson tradition) from the anti-capitalism of Marxist Socialists or 
left-liberal materialists. Here, then, is Melville's little-known warning 
to both bourgeois and Marxist materialists: 

Not magnitude, not lavishness> 
But Form the site; 
Not innovating wilfulness, 
But reverence for the Archetype. 

A scrutiny of the plain facts of the situation has forced our report 

on the new conservatives to be mainly negative. But a positive con- 
tribution is indeed being made by all those thinkers, novelists, and 
poets in the spirit of this Melville quotation today (whether or not 
they realize their own conservatism) who are making Americans 
aware of the tragic antithesis between archetypes and stereotypes in 
life and between art and technique in literature. Let us clarify this 
closely related pair of antitheses and then briefly apply them to that 
technological brilliance which is corrupting our life and literature to- 
day. Only by this unpopular and needed task, closer in spirit to the 
creative imagination of a Faulkner or an Emily Dickinson than to 
the popular bandwagons of politics, can the new conservatism still 
overcome its current degeneration into either (at best) Manchester- 
liberal economic materialism or (at worst) right-wing nationalist 
thought control. And only via this task can America itself humanize 
and canalize its technological prowess creatively, instead of being 
dehumanized and mechanized by it in the sense of Thoreau's "We 
do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us." 

Every outlook has its own characteristic issue of moral choice. For 
thoughtful conservatives today, the meaningful moral choice is not 
between conforming and nonconforming but between conforming to 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 7962 161 

the ephemeral, stereotyped values of the moment and conforming to 
the ancient, lasting archetypal values shared by all creative cultures. 

Archetypes have grown out of the soil of history slowly, pain- 
fully, organically. Stereotypes have been manufactured out of the 
mechanical processes of mass production quickly, painlessly, arti- 
ficially. They have been synthesized in the labs of the entertainment 
industries and in the blueprints of the social engineers. The philistine 
conformist and the ostentatious professional nonconformist are alike 
in being rooted in nothing deeper than the thin topsoil of stereotypes, 
the stereotypes of Babbitt Senior and Babbitt Junior respectively. 

The sudden uprooting of archetypes was the most important con- 
sequence of the worldwide industrial revolution. This moral wound, 
this cultural shock was even more important than the economic con- 
sequences of the industrial revolution. Liberty depends on a sub- 
stratum of fixed archetypes, as opposed to the arbitrary shuffling 
about of laws and institutions. The distinction holds true whether the 
shuffling about be done by the apriorist abstract rationalism of the 
eighteenth century or by the even more inhuman and metallic mass 
production of the nineteenth century, producing new traumas and 
new uprootings every time some new mechanized stereotype replaces 
the preceding one. The contrast between institutions grown organ- 
ically and those shuffled out of arbitrary rationalist liberalism was 
summed up by a British librarian on being asked for the French con- 
stitution: "Sorry, sir, but we don't keep periodicals.* 5 

Every stereotyped society swallows up the diversities of private 
bailiwicks, private eccentricities, private inner life, and the creativity 
inherent in concrete personal loyalties and in loving attachments to 
unique local roots and their rich historical accretions. Apropos the 
creative potential of local roots, let us recall not only Burke's words 
on the need for loyalty to one's own ''little platoon** but also Synge's 
words, in the Ireland of 1907, on "the springtime of the local life," 
where the imagination of man is still "fiery and magnificent and 
tender." The creative imagination of the free artist and free scientist 
requires private elbowroom, free from the pressure of centralization 
and the pressure of adjustment to a mass average. This requirement 
holds true even when the centralization is benevolent and even when 
the mass average replaces sub-average diversities. Intolerable is the 
very concept of some busybody benevolence, whether economic, 
moral, or psychiatric, "curing" all diversity by making it average. 

Admittedly certain kinds of diversity are perfectly dreadful; they 

162 The Radical Right 

threaten everything superior and desirable. But at some point the 
cure to these threats will endanger the superior and the desirable 
even more than do the threats themselves. The most vicious malad- 
justments, economic, moral, or psychiatric, will at some point be- 
come less dangerous to the free mind than the overadjustment the 
stereotyping needed to cure them. 

In the novel and in the poem, the most corrupting stereotype of all 
is the substitution of good technique for art. What once resulted 
from the inspired audacity of a heartbreakingly lonely craftsman is 
now mass-produced in painless, safe, and uninspired capsules. This 
process is taking over every category of education and literature. 
The stream of consciousness for which James Joyce wrestled in lone- 
liness with language; the ironic perspective toward society that Proust 
attained not as entertainment but as tragedy; the quick, slashing in- 
sights for which a Virginia Woolf bled out her heart, all these inti- 
mate personal achievements of the unstandardized private life are 
today the standard props of a hundred hack imitators, mechanically 
vending what is called "the New Yorker-type story." Don't under- 
estimate that type of story; though an imitation job, it is imitation 
with all the magnificent technical skill of America's best-edited 
weekly. And think of the advantages; no pain any more, no risk 
any more, no more nonsense of inspiration. Most modem readers 
are not even bothered by the difference between such an efficient 
but bloodless machine job and the living product of individual 
heart's anguish. 

What, then, is the test for telling the coffee from the Nescafe 
the true artistic inspiration from the jar of Instant Muse? 

The test is pain. Not mere physical pain but the exultant, tran- 
scending pain of selfless sacrifice. The test is that holy pain, that 
brotherhood of sacrifice, that aristocracy of creative suffering of 
which Baudelaire wrote, "Je sais que la douleur est I'unique no- 
blesse." In other words, in a free democracy the only justified aris- 
tocracy is that of the lonely creative bitterness, the artistically 
creative scars of the fight for the inner imagination against outer 
mechanization the fight for the private life. 


Nationalist demagogy, whether McCarthy style or John Birch 
style, would never have become such a nuisance if liberal intellec- 
tuals and New Dealers had earlier made themselves the controlling 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 163 

spearhead of American anti-Communism with the same fervor they 
showed when spearheading anti-fascism. Only because they de- 
faulted that duty of equal leadership against both kinds of tyranny, 
only because of the vacuum of leadership created by that default, 
were the bullies and charlatans enabled partly to fill the vacuum 
and partly to exploit the cause of anti-Communism. Such had been 
the thesis of my book Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals & thesis 
entirely valid for the postwar Yalta era of illusions about Commu- 
nism among the Henry Wallace kind of liberal and New Dealer. 

Today that era is long over. It is ironic that Johnny-come-iately 
anti-Communists like McCarthy and the Birchers did not attack 
New Dealers until after the latter had got over the pro-Communist 
illusions that some of them undoubtedly and disastrously had. To- 
day it is no longer in the interest of our two political camps to go on 
forever with such recriminations of the past. What is to the co-opera- 
tive interest of both parties is to make sure that both are not re- 
placed (after an intervening Kennedy era) by the "rejoicing third'* 
some new movement of nationalist demogogy. Conservatives have 
no more excuse to refuse to co-operate with liberals and New Deal- 
ers against rigfct-wing nationalist threats to our shared liberties than 
to refuse to co-operate against comparable left-wing threats. 

Fortunately, many Burkean new conservatives Raymond Eng- 
lish, Chad Walsh, Thomas Cook, Clinton Rossiter, J. A. Lukacs, 
August Heckscher, Will Herberg, Reinhold Niebuhr, and other dis- 
tinguished names have always been active and effective foes of the 
thought-control nationalists. Every one of these names achieved a 
record of all-out, explicit anti-McCarthyism in the days when that 
demagogue still seemed a danger and when it still took courage, not 
opportunism, to attack him. The same cannot be said of other, often 
better-known "new conservatives. 5 * They failed the acid test of the 
McCarthy temptation of the 1950s in the same way that the fellow- 
traveler kind of liberal failed the acid test of the Communist tempta- 
tion of the 1930s, Both temptations were not only ethical tests of 
integrity but also psychological tests of balance and aesthetic tests of 
good taste, 

Apropos such tests, Clinton Rossiter concludes, in his book Con- 
servatism in America, "Unfortunately for the cause of conservatism, 
Kirk has now begun to sound like a man born one hundred and fifty 
years too late and in the wrong country*" But it is pleasanter to see 

164 The Radical Right 

the positive, not only the negative, in a fellow-writer one esteems. 
Let us partly overlook Kirk's silence about the McCarthy thought- 
control menace in Chicago. Let us partly overlook his lack of silence 
in supporting as so-called "conservatives" the Goldwater Manchester 
liberals of old-guard Republicanism (as if historic Anglo-American 
conservatism, with its Disraeli-Churchill-Hughes-Roosevelt tradition 
of humane social reform, could ever be equated with the robber- 
baron kind of laisser-faire capitalism). Fortunately, Kirk's positive 
contribution sometimes almost balances such embarrassing ventures 
into practical national politics. His positive contribution consists of 
his sensitive, perceptive rediscovery of literary and philosophical fig- 
ures like Irving Babbitt and George Santayana for a true humanistic 
conservatism today. 

Even at its best, even when avoiding the traps of right-wing radi- 
calism, the new conservatism is partly guilty of causing the emotional 
deep-freeze that today makes young people ashamed of generous 
social impulses. New conservatives point out correctly that in the 
1930s many intellectuals wasted generous emotions on unworthy 
causes, on Communist totalitarianism masked as liberalism. True 
enough indeed, a point many of us, as "premature" anti-Commu- 
nists, were making already in those days. But it does not follow, 
from recognizing the wrong generosities of the past, that we 
should today have no generous emotions at all, not even for many 
obviously worthy causes all around us, such as desegregation. Not 
only liberals but conservatives like Burke (reread his speeches 
against the slave trade) and John Adams and John Quincy Adams 
(among America's first fighters for Negro rights) have fought racism 
as contradicting our traditional Christian view of man. 

The cost of being a genuine Burke-Adams conservative today is 
that you will be misrepresented in two opposite ways as being 
really liberals at heart, hypocritically pretending to be conservatives; 
as being authoritarian reactionaries at heart, hypocritically pretend- 
ing to be devoted to civil liberties. So far as the first misrepresenta- 
tion goes: devotion to civil liberties is not a monopoly of liberals. It 
is found in liberals and Burkean conservatives alike, as shown in 
the exchange of letters in their old age between the liberal Thomas 
Jefferson and his good friend, the conservative John Adams. So far 
as the second misrepresentation goes: the test of whether a new con- 
servative is sincere about civil liberties or merely a rightist authori- 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 165 

tarian is the same as the test of whether any given liberal of the 
1930s was sincere about civil liberties or merely a leftist authori- 
tarian. That test (which Senator Goldwater fails) is twofold, in- 
volving one question about practice, one question about theory. In 
practice, does the given conservative or liberal show his devotion 
to civil liberties in deeds as well as words? In theory, does he show 
awareness of a law we may here define as the law of compensatory 
balance? The law of compensatory balance makes the exposure of 
Communist fellow-traveling the particular duty of liberals, the ex- 
posure of right-wing thought-controllers the particular duty of con- 

Here are some further implications of the law of compensatory 
balance. A traditional monarchy is freest, as in Scandinavia, when 
anticipating social democracy in humane reforms; an untraditional, 
centralized mass democracy is freest when encouraging, even to the 
point of tolerating eccentricity and arrogance, the remnants it pos- 
sesses of aristocracy, family and regional pride, and decentralized 
provincial divergencies, traditions, privileges. A conservative is most 
valuable when serving in the more liberal party, a liberal when 
serving in the more conservative party. Thus the conservative Burke 
belonged not to the Tory but the Whig Party. Similarly Madison, 
whose tenth Federalist paper helped found and formulate our conserv- 
ative Constitutionalist tradition of distrusting direct democracy and 
majority dictatorship, joined the liberal Jeffersonian party, not the 
Federalist Party. Reinhold Niebuhr, conservative in his view of his- 
tory and anti-modernist, anti-liberal in theology, is not a Republican 
but a New Dealer in political-party activities. 


Our distinction between rooted conservatives and rootless, coun- 
terrevolutionary doctrinaires is the measure of the difference between 
two different groups in contemporary America: the humanistic 
value-conservers and the materialistic old-guard Republicans. The 
latter are what a wrong and temporary journalistic usage often calls 
"conservative." It is more accurate to call them nineteenth-century 
Manchester liberals with roots no deeper than the relatively recent 
post-Civil War "gilded age." Already on May 28, 1903, Winston 
Churchill denied them and their British counterparts the name of 
conservatives when he declared in Parliament: 

166 The Radical Right 

The new fiscal policy [of high tariffs] means a change, not only in 
the historic English parties but in the conditions of our public life. 

The old Conservative Party with its religious convictions and constitu- 
tional principles will disappear and a new party will arise . . . like 
perhaps the Republican Party in the United States of America . . . 
rigid, materialist and secular, whose opinions will turn on tariffs and 
who will cause the lobbies to be crowded with the touts of protected 

The Churchill quotation applies well to Senator Goldwater today. 
This charming and personable orator is a lalsser-faire Manchester 
liberal when humane social reforms are at stake. But, as is Church- 
ill in the above quotation, he is ready to make an exception against 
laisser-faire when protection of privileged industry is involved. The 
Burkean conservative today cherishes New Deal reforms in eco- 
nomics and Lockean parliamentary liberalism in politics, as tradi- 
tions that are here to stay. Indeed, it is not the least of the functions 
of the new conservatism to force a now middle-aged New Deal to 
realize that it has become conservative and rooted, and that there- 
fore it had better stop parroting the anti-Constitutional, anti-tradi- 
tional slogans of its youth. These slogans are now being practiced 
instead, and to a wilder extent than, even the most extreme New 
Deal liberal ever envisaged, by the Republican radicals of -the right, 
with their wild-eyed schemes for impeaching Justice Warren or abol- 
ishing taxes. 

The best-rooted philosophical conservatives in America derive 
from the anti-material-progress tradition of Melville and Irving Bab- 
bitt; they are found mainly in the literary and educational world, the 
creative world at its best, the non-political world. Politics will not be 
ready for their ideas for another generation; they should shed their 
illusions on that score. The normal time lag of a generation likewise 
separated the literary and university origin of Coleridge's conserva- 
tism from its osmosis into the politics of Disraeli Toryism. 

Sir Henry Maine (1822-1888), one of the world's leading author- 
ities on constitutions, called America's Constitution the most suc- 
cessful conservative bulwark in history against majority tyranny and 
mass radicalism and on behalf of traditional liberties and continuity 
of framework. Later scholars like Louis Hartz prefer to derive our 
free heritage not from the Burkean and Federalist ideas of Adams 
and the Constitution but from eighteenth-century Lockean liberal- 
ism. Both sides are partly right and need not exclude each other. For 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 167 

Locke's liberalism is a relatively moderate and tradition-respecting 
brand when compared with the Continental, anti-traditional liberal- 
ism of Rousseau, not to mention the Jacobins. So we come full circle 
in America's political paradox; our conservatism, in the absence of 
medieval feudal relics, must grudgingly admit it has little real tradi- 
tion to conserve except that of liberalism which then turns out to 
be a relatively conservative liberalism. 

The need for new conservatives to maintain continuity also with 
well-rooted liberal traditions does not mean conservatism and liber- 
alism are the same. Their contrast may be partly and briefly defined 4 
as the tragic cyclical view of man, based on a political seculariza- 
tion of original sin, versus the optimistic faith in the natural goodness 
of man and mass and the inevitability of linear progress. In Cole- 
ridgian terms, conservatism is the concrete organic growth of in- 
stitutions, as if they were trees, while rationalist liberalism is an ab- 
stract, mechanical moving around of institutions as if they were 
separate pieces of furniture. Conservatism serves "growingness" and 
moves inarticulately and traditionally, like the seasons; liberalism 
serves "progress" and moves consciously and systematically, like 
geometry. The former is a circle, the latter an ever-advancing straight 
line. Both are equally needed half truths; both are equally inherent 
in the human condition, liberalism on a more rational level and con- 
servatism on a perhaps deeper level It may be generalized that the 
conservative mind does not like to generalize. Conservative theory 
is anti-theoretical. The liberal and rationalist mind consciously artic- 
ulates abstract blueprints; the conservative mind unconsciously in- 
carnates concrete traditions. Liberal formulas define freedom; con- 
servative traditions embody it. 

Even while philosophical conservatives support liberals in day-to- 
day measures of social humaneness or of Constitutional liberties 
against rightist or leftist radicals, the above basic contrast between 
the two temperaments will always remain. For these contrasts are 
symbolized by contrasting spokesmen in our history. George Wash- 
ington, John Adams, and the Federalists are not the same as apriorist 
egalitarians like Paine, or believers in natural goodness like Jeffer- 
son. John Calhoun is not the same as Andrew Jackson. Barrett Wen- 
dell, Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More are not the same as the spokes- 
men of our liberal weeklies or of the New York Post. Charles Evans 
Hughes is not the same as La Follette or even Woodrow Wilson. 
No, the need for conservative continuity with America's institution- 

168 The Radical Right 

alized liberal past does not mean identity with liberalism, least of 
all with optimism about human nature, or utilitarian overemphasis 
on material progress, or trust in the direct democracy of the masses. 
Instead, conservative continuity with our liberal past simply means 
that you cannot escape from history; history has provided America 
with a shared liberal-conservative base more liberal than European 
Continental conservatives, more conservative than European Conti- 
nental liberals. 

This shared liberal-conservative base is a rooted reality, not a 
rightist nostalgia for roots, and from it grows the core of the New 
Deal and of the Kennedy program, as opposed to the inorganic, 
mechanical abstractions of either a Karl Marx or an Adam Smith. 
So let new conservatives stop becoming what they accuse liberals of 
being roofless doctrinaires. 


When asked by President Teddy Roosevelt what the justification 
was of Austria's supposedly outdated monarchy, the old Hapsburg 
emperor Francis Joseph replied, "To protect my peoples from their 
governments." Similarly Disraeli like Lord Bolingbroke of the 
early eighteenth century defended the Crown and the Established 
Church as bulwarks of the people's rights against ephemeral poli- 
ticians. The throne, whether Hapsburg or British, serves to moderate 
excesses of nationalistic or economic pressure groups against individ- 
ual rights. In non-monarchic America, this same indispensable pro- 
tection of liberty against the mob tyranny of transient majorities is 
performed by the Supreme Court, that similarly hallowed and aloof 
inheritor of the monarchic aura. 

So conservatism fights on two fronts. It fights the atomistic dis- 
unity of unregulated capitalism. It fights the merely bureaucratic, 
merely mechanical unity of modern Socialism, It fights both for the 
sake of organic unity but thereby runs the risk of creating a third 
threat of its own. For within its organic unity lies the totalitarian 
threat whenever the free individual is sacrificed totally and without 
guarantees (instead of partly and with constitutional guarantees) 
to that unity. Such a total sacrifice of individual to society took place 
in German romanticism; organic unity there became an anti-individ- 
ual cult of the folk-state (Volk). This cult took place already in 
the nineteenth century. It not only unbalanced German conserva- 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 169 

tism toward extreme statism (via Hegel) but unwittingly prepared 
title German people psychologically for Hitler's gangster unity. 

The proper conservative balance between individual diversity and 
organic social unity has been best formulated by Coleridge, in 1831: 

The difference between an inorganic and an organic body lies in this: 
in the first a sheaf of corn the whole is nothing more than a collec- 
tion of the individual parts or phenomena. In the second a man the 
whole is everything and the parts are nothing. A State is an idea 
intermediate between the two, the whole being a result from, and not 
a mere total of, the parts, and yet not so merging the constituent 
parts in the result, but that the individual exists integrally within it. 

Coleridgian conservatism, the height of the conservative philosophy, 
lies in the above intermediate "and yet," which saves the "individual 
integrally" while linking him organically. The folk romanticism of 
Germany and the "Third Rome" heritage of czarist Russia upset that 
balance in favor of "the whole is everything, the parts nothing," 
thereby paving the way for Nazism and Communism respectively. 
On the opposite extreme, America upset that Coleridgian balance in 
favor of "the whole is nothing" ("a sheaf of corn") after the 
chaotic robber-baron individualists emerged as the real victors of 
the Civil War. So the proper rebalancing ("intermediate between the 
two") would promote an almost exaggerated individualism in Ger- 
many and Russia and an almost exaggerated "Socialistic" or New 
Deal unity in America, not for its own sake but to even the scales. 
Therefore in America it is often the free trade unions who uncon- 
sciously are our ablest representatives of the word they hate and 
misunderstand conservatism. The organic unity they restore to the 
atomized "proletariat" is the providential Coleridgian "intermediate" 
between doctrinaire capitalism and doctrinaire Socialism. In the 
words of Frank Tannenbaum in ^4 Philosophy of Labor, 1952: 

Trade unionism is the conservative movement of our time. It is the 
counter-revolution. Unwittingly, it has turned its back upon most of the 
political and economic ideas that have nourished western Europe and 
the United States during the last two centuries. In practice, though not 
in words, it denies the heritage that stems from the French Revolution 
and from English liberalism. It is also a complete repudiation of Marx- 
ism. . . . 

In contrast with [Communism, Fascism, and laisser-faire capitalism] 

170 The Radical Right 

the trade union has involved a clustering of men about their work. This 
fusion [the new, medieval-style organic society] has been going on for 
a long time. It has been largely unplanned. . . . There is a great tradi- 
tion of humanism and compassion in European and American politics, 
philosophy, and law, which counters, at first ineffectively, the driving 
forces operating for the atomization of society and the isolation of 
man. That tradition in England includes such names as Cobbett, Shaftes- 
bury, Romilly, Dickens, Byron, Coleridge, Carlyle, Ruskin, Charles 
Kingsley. . . . The trade union is the real alternative to the authoritarian 
state. The trade union is our modern "society," the only true society that 
industrialism has fostered. As a true society it is concerned with the 
whole man, and embodies the possibilities of both the freedom and the 
security essential to human dignity. 

This Tannenbaum passage is both conservative and new. Yet it 
would fill with horror the Kirk-Goldwater kind of mind that today 
claims to speak for "the new conservatism." Such horror is not an 
argument against Tannenbaum nor against a new conservatism. It 
is an argument against the misuse of language. And it is an argument 
against that old-guard wing of the Republican Party which has yet 
to learn the anti-rightist warning spoken in 1790 by the conservative 
Burke: "A state without the means of some change is without the 
means of its conservation." 

What about the argument (very sincerely believed by the Na- 
tional Review and old-guard Republicans) that denies the label 
"conservative" to those of us who support trade unionism and who 
selectively support many New Deal reforms? According to this argu- 
ment, our support of such humane and revolution-preventing reforms 
hi politics by New Dealers and democratic Socialists makes us 
indistinguishable in philosophy from New Dealers and democratic 
Socialists. Similarly our support of the liberal position on civil liberties 
in politics supposedly makes us indistinguishable from liberals in 
philosophy. Shall we then cease to call ourselves philosophical con- 
servatives, despite our conservative view of history and human na- 

The answer is: Children, don't oversimplify, don't pigeonhole; al- 
low for pluralistic overlappings that defy abstract blueprints and 
labels. Trade unionists (and some of the new humanistic, non-statist 
Socialists that are evolving in England and West Germany) may 
be what Frank Tannenbaum calls "the conservative counter-rev- 
olution" despite themselves (a neo-medieval organic society) and 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 171 

against their own conscious intentions. Meanwhile, self-styled con- 
servatives are often unconscious anarchic wreckers and uprooters 
(from the French O.A.S. to America's second generation of campus 
neo-McCarthyites). Moreover, the same social reform in politics 
may be supported for very different philosophical reasons. To cite 
an old example newly relevant today, the support of the working- 
man's right to vote and right to strike by both the Chartists and the 
Tory Disraeli merely means that some support a reform as a first 
step to mass revolution while others support the same reform to woo 
the masses away from revolution and to give them a sense of belong- 
ingness by changing them from masses to individuals. 

Finally, there is the distinction between what is done and how it 
is done. This distinction differentiates the conservative from the 
democratic Socialist and from the New Deal bureaucrat even when 
they all vote the same ticket (as so many of us could not help but 
do, given the Republican alternative, in the case of Roosevelt, Steven- 
son, and Kennedy). This distinction, this clarification of the proper 
use of "conservative," is found in an important and much-discussed 
essay by August Heckscher, at that time the chief editorial writer of 
the New York Herald Tribune and in 1962 appointed President 
Kennedy's Consultant for Cultural Affairs. Writing in the Harvard 
magazine Confluence in September, 1953, Mr. Heckscher said: 

The failure to understand the true nature of conservatism has made 
political campaigns in the United States signally barren of intellectual 
content In debate it is difficult at best to admit that you would do the 
same thing as the opposition, but in a different way. Yet the spirit in 
which things are done really does make a difference, and can distinguish 
a sound policy from an unsound one. Social reforms can be undertaken 
with the effect of draining away local energies, reducing the citizenry 
to an undifferentiated mass, and binding it to the shackles of the all- 
powerful state. Or they can be undertaken with the effect of strengthen- 
ing the free citizen's stake in society. The ends are different. The means 
will be also, if men have the wit to distinguish between legislation which 
encourages voluntary participation and legislation which involves reck- 
less spending and enlargement of the federal bureaucracy. 

It is easy to say that such distinctions are not important. A conserva- 
tive intellectual like Peter Viereck is constantly challenged, for example, 
because in a book like Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals he supports 
a political program not dissimilar in its outlines from that which was 
achieved during twenty years of social renovation under the Democrats. 

172 The Radical Right 

But the way reforms are undertaken is actually crucial. Concern for the 
individual, reluctance to have the central government perform what can 
be done as well by the state or to have the public perform what can be 
done as well by private enterprise these priorities involve values. And 
such values (upheld by writers like Mr. Viereck) are at the heart of 
modern conservatism. ... So conservatism at best remains deeper and 
more pervasive than any party; and a party that does claim it exclu- 
sively is likely to deform and exploit it for its own purposes. 

In conclusion, let us broaden the discussion from America into 
certain worldwide considerations about the nature of despotism. They 
are considerations about which all men of good will can agree as a 
strategy of freedom, whether New Deal social democrats or Man- 
chester-liberal Republicans or Burkean conservatives. If there is no 
such agreement, then the epitaph on the tombstone of freedom may 
appropriately be these lines of Yeats: 

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. . . . 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity. 

According to the neo-Stalinist wing in Russia today, almost all 
intellectuals and reformers are secret agents of western capitalism. 
According to the right wing today in America, almost all intellectuals 
and reformers are secret agents of eastern Communism. Mirror 
images, of course. And wrong twice. 

Each mirror image needs the other and reflects on the other. They 
need each other as bogeymen. They reflect on each other because 
each leftist extreme frightens waverers into the rightist camp; each 
rightist extreme frightens waverers into the leftist camp. McCarthy- 
ism used to frighten European liberals into being fellow-travelers 
with communism. Communism frightens American conservatives 
into being fellow-travelers with the pseudo-conservative nationalist 
thought controllers. 

Neither mirror image is strong enough to destroy freedom by it- 
self. Freedom is destroyed when both attack at the same time. Lenin 
was able to seize power in November, 1917, only because the new 
Duma government had been weakened by right-wing authoritarians, 
the John Birchers of Russia, who slandered it as "Red" and who had 
undermined it by the Kornilov Putsch in September. Hitler was 
able to seize power in 1933 only because the Weimar Republic had 

The Philosophical "New Conservatism" 1962 173 

been weakened by Communist authoritarians, who slandered it as 
"Social Fascist" and who had undermined it by postwar Putsches. 
In 1962 in France, the anti-de Gaulle Communists and the O.A.S. 
rightists are examples of the same process in our own time. So are 
the Gizenga leftists and Tshombe rightists in the Congo. 

In both Congo and California, in France today as in Kerensky's 
Russia yesterday, the fellow-traveler left and the thought-control 
right are still needing each other and feeding each other, as against 
the center. Meanwhile in every country the Burke-style conserva- 
tives, who revere a rooted constitution, and the Mill-style liberals, 
who revere civil liberties, likewise need each other: to unite against 
what Metternich called "the white radicals" of the right as well as 
the red radicals. Hence this slogan to end all slogans: "LIBER- 

Liberties versus "liberty." Concrete liberties, preserved by the 
chains of ethics, versus abstract liberty-in-quotes, betrayed by mes- 
sianic sloganizing, betrayed into the far grimmer chains of totali- 
tarianism. "Man was bom free" (said Rousseau, with his faith in 
the natural goodness of man) "but is everywhere in chains." "In 
chains, and so he ought to be," replies the thoughtful conservative, 
defending the good and wise and necessary chains of rooted tradi- 
tion and historic continuity, upon which depend the civil liberties, 
the shared civil liberties of modern liberals and conservatives, and 
parliamentary monarchists, and democratic Socialists. Without the 
chaos-chaining, the id-chaining heritage of rooted values, what is to 
keep man from becoming Eichmann or Nechayev what is to save 
freedom from "freedom?" 

1 From the appendix of the second edition (London, 1865) of Newman's 
Apologia Pro Vita Sua. 

2 Here to be defined as "archetypes," 

3 Here to be defined as "stereotypes." 

4 Longer, more complete definition, with all the needed specific examples in 
political and intellectual life, is attempted in the first three chapters of the 
present writer's Anvil paperback, Conservatism from John Adams to Church- 
ill (Van Nostrand Company, Princeton, 1956). 


in America 1955 


To THE relatively objective observer, whether American or 
foreign,, it seems clear that the complex of phenomena that have 
come to be known as "McCarthyism" must be symptoms of a process 
in American society of some deep and general significance. Some 
interpret it simply as political reaction, even as a kind of neo- 
fascism. Some think of it as simply a manifestation of nationalism. 
The present paper proposes to bring to bear some theoretical per- 
spectives of sociology in an attempt to work out an interpretation 
which goes beyond catchwords of this order. 

McCarthyism can be understood as a relatively acute symptom of 
the strains which accompany a major change in the situation and 
structure of American society, a change which in this instance con- 
sists in the development of the attitudes and institutional machinery 
required to implement a greatly enhanced level of national political 
responsibility. The necessity for this development arises both from 
our own growth to an enormous potential of power, and from the 
changed relation to the rest of the world which this growth in itself, 
and other changes extraneous to American development, have en- 
tailed. The strains to which I refer derive primarily from conflicts 
between the demands imposed by the new situation and the inertia 
of those elements of our social structure which are most resistant 
to the necessary changes. 

The situation I have in mind centers on the American position 
in international affairs. The main facts are familiar to all. It is not 
something that has come about suddenly, but the impact of its pres- 
sures has been cumulative. 

The starting point is the relative geographical isolation of the 
United States in the "formative" period of its national history, down 

176 The Radical Right 

to, let us say, about the opening of the present century. The Spanish- 
American War extended our involvements into the Spanish-speaking 
areas of the Caribbean and to the Philippines, and the Boxer epi- 
sode in China and our mediation of the Russo-Japanese War in- 
dicated rapidly growing interests in the Orient. Then the First 
World War brought us in as one of the major belligerents, with a 
brief possibility of taking a role of world leadership. From this ad- 
vanced degree of international involvement, however, we recoiled 
with a violent reaction, repudiating the Treaty of Versailles and the 
League of Nations. 

In the insuing period of "normalcy," until the shock of Pearl 
Harbor settled the question, it could still be held that the "quarrels" 
of foreign powers beyond the Americas were none of our concern, 
unless some "arbitrary" disturbance impinged too closely on our 
national interests. By the end of the Second World War, however, 
this attitude could not again be revived by any body of opinion which 
pretended to depend upon a realistic appraisal of our situation. Our 
own strength, in spite of our massive disarmament and demobiliza- 
tion, had grown too great; the defeat of France and the disorganiza- 
tion of Germany destroyed such continental European balance of 
power as had existed; Britain, though victorious, was greatly weak- 
ened in the face of world-wide commitments; and Soviet Russia 
emerged as a victorious and expanding power, leading with a rev- 
olutionary ideology a movement which could readily destroy such 
elements of stability favorable to our own national values and in- 
terests as still remained in the world. Along with all this have come 
developments in military technology that have drastically neutralized 
the protections formerly conferred by geographical distance, so that 
even the elementary military security of the United States cannot now 
be taken for granted apart from world-wide political order. 

The vicissitudes of American foreign policy and its relations to 
domestic politics over this period show the disturbing effect of this 
developing situation on our society. We have twice intervened mili- 
tarily on a grand scale. With a notable difference of degree, we have 
both times recoiled from the implications of our intervention. In the 
second case the recoil did not last long, since the beginnings of the 
Cold War about 1947 made it clear that only American action was 
able to prevent Soviet domination of the whole continent of Europe. 
It can, however, be argued that this early and grand-scale resump- 
tion of responsibility imposed serious internal strains because it did 

Social Strains in America 1955 177 

not allow time for "digesting" the implications of our role in the war. 

The outstanding characteristic of- the society on which this greatly 
changed situation has impinged is that it had come to be the in- 
dustrial society par excellence partly because the settlement of 
the continental area coincided with the later industrial revolution, 
partly because of the immense area and natural resources of .the 
country, but partly too because of certain important differences be- 
tween American and European society. Since the United States did 
not have a class structure tightly integrated with a political organiza- 
tion that had developed its main forms before the industrial revolu- 
tion, the economy has had a freedom to develop and to set the tone 
for the whole society in a way markedly different from any Euro- 
pean country or Japan. 

All highly industrialized societies exhibit many features in com- 
mon which are independent of the particular historical paths by 
which their developments have taken place. These include the 
bureaucratic organization of the productive process itself, in the 
sense that the roles of individuals are of the occupational type and 
the organizations in which they are grouped are mainly "specific 
function" organizations. Under this arrangement the peasant type 
of agricultural holding, where fanning is very closely bound up 
with a kinship unit, is minimized; so too of small family businesses; 
people tend to, look to their productive function and to profit as a 
measure of success and hence of emancipation from conflicting ties 
and claims; the rights of property ownership are centered primarily 
in the organization which carries functional responsibility, and hence 
permits a high degree of segregation between private life and oc- 
cupational roles for production purposes; contract plays a central 
part in the system of exchange, and para-economic elements tend 
to be reduced in importance. 

Outside the sphere which touches the organization of the econ- 
omy itself, industrialism means above all that the structures which 
would interfere with the free functioning of the economy, and of 
their adaptation to it, are minimized. The first of these is family 
and kinship. The American family system, chiefly characterized by 
the isolation of the nuclear or conjugal family, has gone farther 
than in any European society toward removing all interferences 
with the occupational roles of the breadwinning members, and 
with occupational mobility. A second field is religion. The Ameri- 
can combination of federalism and the separation of church and 

178 The Radical Right 

state has resulted in a system of "denominational pluralism" which 
prevents organized religion from constituting a monolithic structure 
standing in the way of secular social developments. The third 
field concerns the matter of social stratification. The United States 
of course has a class structure; but it is one which has its primary 
roots in the system of occupational roles, and in contrast to the 
typical European situation it acts as no more than a brake on the 
processes of social mobility which are most important to an indus- 
trial type of occupational system. Under an effective family system 
there must be some continuity of class status from generation to 
generation, and there cannot be complete "equality of opportu- 
nity." In America, however, it is clearly the occupational system 
rather than kinship continuity that prevails. 

Linked to this situation is our system of formal education. The 
United States was among the pioneers in developing publicly sup- 
ported education; but this has taken place in a notably decentralized 
way. Not only is there no Department of Education in the Federal 
government, but even the various state departments are to a large 
extent service organizations for the locally controlled school systems. 
Higher education further has been considerably more independent 
of class standards which equate the "scholar" with the "gentleman" 
(in a class sense) than has been the case in Europe. Also a far 
larger proportion of each age-group attends institutions of higher 
education than in European countries. 

Politically the most important fact about American industrialism 
is that it has developed overwhelmingly under the aegis of free 
enterprise. Historically the center of gravity of the integration of 
American society has not rested in the political field. There came 
to be established a kind of "burden of proof" expectation that re- 
sponsibilities should not be undertaken by government unless, first, 
the necessity for their being undertaken at all was clearly established, 
and second, there was no other obviously adequate way to get the 
job done. It is therefore not surprising that the opening up of vast 
new fields of governmental responsibility should meet with consider- 
able resistance and conflict. 

The impact of this problem on our orientation to foreign relations 
has been complicated by an important set of internal circumstances. 
It is a commonplace that industrialism creates on a large scale two 
sets of problems which uniformly in all industrialized countries have 
required modifications of any doctrinaire "laissez-faire" policy: the 

Social Strains in America 1955 179 

problems of controlling the processes of the economy itself, and of 
dealing with certain social repercussions of industrialization. 

As the process of industrialization has developed in America 
there has been a steady increase in the amount of public control 
imposed on the economy, with the initiative mainly in the hands of 
the Federal government. This trend was accelerated in the latter 
years of the nineteenth century, and has continued, with interrup- 
tions, through the New Deal. The New Deal, however, was more 
concerned with the social repercussions of industralization, rather 
than with more narrowly economic problems. The introduction of a 
national system of social security and legislation more favorable to 
labor are perhaps the most typical developments. This internal proc- 
ess of government intervention has not gone far enough to satisfy 
European socialists, but it certainly constitutes a great modification 
of the earlier situation. Moreover, in broad lines it can be regarded 
as firmly established. It is significant that the major political parties 
now tend to vie with each other in promoting the extension of social 
security benefits, that there is no likelihood of repeal of the 
Federal Reserve Act, and that there is no strong movement to place 
the unions under really severe legal restraints. 

On the whole, business groups have accepted the new situation 
and cooperated to make it work with considerably more good faith 
than in Continental Europe. Nevertheless, these internal changes 
have been sufficiently recent and far-reaching to keep the strains 
attendant on them from being fully resolved. Moreover they have 
created an important part of the problems with which this examina- 
tion is chiefly concerned, problems touching the composition of the 
higher strata of the society, where the primary burden of responsi- 
bility must fall. 

By contrast with European countries, perhaps in some ways par- 
ticularly Britain, the United States has been conspicuous for the 
absence or relative weakness of two types of elite elements. The first 
of these is a hereditary upper class with a status continuous from 
pre-industrial times, closely integrated with politics and public serv- 
ice. The second is an occupational elite whose roots are essentially 
independent of the business world in the independent professions, 
the universities, the church, or government, including civil and mili- 
tary services. 

In America the businessmen have tended to be the natural leaders 
of the general community. But, both for the reasons just reviewed 

180 The Radical Right 

and for certain others, this leadership has not remained undisputed. 
On the whole the business community has, step by step, resisted the 
processes of internal change necessitated by industrialization rather 
than taken the leadership in introducing them. The leadership that 
has emerged has been miscellaneous in social origin, including pro- 
fessional politicians, especially those in touch with the urban political 
machines, leaders in the labor union movement and elements in 
close touch with them. An important part has been played by men 
and women who may be said to exhibit a more or less "aristocratic" 
tinge, particularly in the Eastern cities, President Roosevelt of course 
having been among them. An important part has been played by 
lawyers who have made themselves more independent of the busi- 
ness connection than the typical corporation lawyer of a generation 
ago. Under the pressure of emergency, there has been a tendency 
for high military officers to play important roles in public life. 

Another important group has been composed of "intellectuals" 
again a rather miscellaneous assembly including writers, newspaper- 
men, and members of university faculties. In general the importance 
of the universities has been steadily enhanced by the increasingly 
technical character of the operations of the economy; businessmen 
themselves have had to be more highly educated than their predeces- 
sors, and have become increasingly dependent on still more highly 
trained technicians of various kinds. 

The important point is that the "natural" tendency for a relatively 
unequivocal business leadership of the general community has been 
frustrated, and the business group has had to give way at many 
points. Nevertheless, a clearly defined non-business component of 
the elite has not yet crystallized. In my opinion, the striking feature 
of the American elite is not what Soviet propaganda contends that 
it is the clear-cut dominance by "capitalists" but rather its fluid 
and relatively unstructured character. In particular, there is no clear 
determination of where political leadership, in the sense including 
both "politics" and "administration," is to center. 

A further feature of the structure of American society is intimately 
related to the residual strains left by recent social changes. There is 
a continuing tendency for earlier economic developments to leave a 
"precipitate" of upper groups, the position of whose members is 
founded in the achievements of their ancestors, in this case relatively 
recent ones. By historical necessity these groups are strongest in the 
older parts of the country. Hence the cities of tte Eastern seaboard 

Social Strains in America 1955 181 

have tended to develop groups that are the closest approach we have 
though still very different from their European equivalent to an 
aristocracy. They have generally originated in business interests, 
but have taken on a form somewhat similar to the mercantile aris- 
tocracies of some earlier European societies, such as the Hanseatic 
cities. In the perspective of popular democratic sentiments, these 
groups have tended to symbolize at the same time capitalistic in- 
terests and social snobbery. In certain circumstances they may be 
identified with "bohemianism" and related phenomena which are 
sources of uneasiness to traditional morality. 

As the American social and economic center has shifted west- 
ward, such groups in the great Middle Western area and beyond 
have been progressively less prominent. There the elites have con- 
sisted of new men. In the nature of the case the proportional con- 
tribution to the economy and the society in general from the 
older and the newer parts of the country has shifted, with the newer 
progressively increasing their share. But at the same time there is the 
sense among them of having had to fight for this share against the 
"dominance" of the East. A similar feeling permeates the lower 
levels of the class structure. A major theme of the populist type of 
agrarian and other radicalism had combined class and sectional 
elements, locating the source of people's troubles in the bankers and 
railway magnates of the East and in Wall Street. It must not be for- 
gotten that the isolationism of the between-the-wars period was 
intimately connected with this sectional and class sentiment. The 
elder La Follette, who was one of the principal destroyers of the 
League of Nations, was not a "conservative" or in any usual sense 
a reactionary, but a principal leader of the popular revolt against 
"the interests." 

It must also not be forgotten that a large proportion of the Ameri- 
can population are descendants of relatively recent immigrants whose 
cultural origins are different from the dominant Protestant Anglo- 
Saxon elements. A generation and more ago the bulk of the new 
immigration constituted an urban proletariat largely dominated by 
the political machines of the great cities. By now a great change has 
taken place. The children of these immigrants have been very much 
Americanized, but to a considerable degree they are still sensitive 
about their full acceptance. This sensitivity is if anything heightened 
by the fact that on the whole most of these elements have risen 
rapidly in the economic and social scale. They are no longer the 

182 The Radical Right 

inhabitants of the scandalous slums; many have climbed to lower- 
middle-class status and higher. They have a certain susceptibility to 
"democratic" appeals which are directed against the alleged snob- 
bery of the older dominant elements. 

Finally, the effect of the great depression of the 1930s on the 
leading business groups must not be forgotten. Such a collapse of 
the economy could not fail to be felt as a major failure of the ex- 
pectation that business leaders should bear the major responsibility 
for the welfare of the economy as a whole and thus of the com- 
munity. In general it was not the businessmen but the government, 
under leadership which was broadly antagonistic to business, which 
came to the rescue. Similarly, the other great class of American 
proprietors, the farmers, had to accept governmental help of a sort 
that entailed controls, which in turn inevitably entailed severe con- 
flicts with the individualistic traditions of their history. The fact that 
the strains of the war and postwar periods have been piled so 
immediately on those of depression has much to do with the severity 
of the tensions with which this analysis is concerned. 

My thesis, then, is that the strains of the international situation 
have impinged on a society undergoing important internal changes 
which have themselves been sources of strain, with the effect of 
superimposing one kind of strain on another. What responses to this 
compound strain are to be expected? 

It is a generalization well established in social science that neither 
individuals nor societies can undergo major structural changes with- 
out the likelihood of producing a considerable element of "irrational" 
behavior. There will tend to be conspicuous distortions of the pat- 
terns of value and of the normal beliefs about the facts of situations. 
These distorted beliefs and promptings to irrational action will also 
tend to be heavily weighted with emotion, to be "overdetermined" 
as the psychologists say. 

The psychology of such reactions is complex, but for present pur- 
poses it will suffice to distinguish two main components. On the 
negative side, there will tend to be high levels of anxiety and ag- 
gression, focused on what rightly or wrongly are felt to be the 
sources of strain and difficulty. On the positive side there will tend 
to be wishful patterns of belief with a strong "regressive" flavor, 
whose chief function is to wish away the disturbing situation and 
establish a situation in phantasy where "everything will be all right," 
preferably as it was before the disturbing situation came about. 

Social Strains in America 1955 183 

Very generally then the psychological formula tends to prescribe a 
set of beliefs that certain specific, symbolic agencies are responsible 
for the present state of distress; they have "arbitrarily" upset a 
satisfactory state of affairs. If only they could be eliminated the 
trouble would disappear and a satisfactory state restored. The role 
of this type of mechanism in primitive magic is quite well known. 

In a normal process of learning in the individual, or of develop- 
mental change in the social system, such irrational phenomena are 
temporary, and tend to subside as capacity to deal with the new 
situation grows. This may be more or less easily achieved of course, 
and resolution of the conflicts and strains may fail to be achieved for 
a long period or may even be permanently unsuccessful. But under 
favorable circumstances these reactions are superseded by an in- 
creasingly realistic facing of the situation by institutionalized means. 

Our present problem therefore centers on the need to mobilize 
American society to cope with a dangerous and threatening situa- 
tion which is also intrinsically difficult. It can clearly only be coped 
with at the governmental level; and hence the problem is in es- 
sence a matter of political action, involving both questions of lead- 
ership of who, promoting what policies, shall take the primary 
responsibility and of the commitment of the many heterogeneous 
elements of our population to the national interest. 

Consequently there has come to be an enormous increase in 
pressure to subordinate private interests to the public interest, and 
this in a society where the presumptions have been more strongly in 
favor of the private interest than in most. Readiness to make com- 
mitments to a collective interest is the focus of what we ordinarily 
mean by "loyalty." It seems to me that the problem of loyalty at 
its core is a genuine and realistic one; but attitudes toward it shade 
all the way from a reasonable concern with getting the necessary 
degree of loyal cooperation by legitimate appeals, to a grossly ir- 
rational set of anxieties about the prevalence of disloyalty, and a 
readiness to vent the accompanying aggression on innocent scape- 

Underlying the concern for loyalty in general, and explaining a 
good deal of the reaction to it, is the ambivalence of our approach to 
the situation: The people in the most "exposed" positions are on the 
one hand pulled by patriotic motives toward fulfillment of the ex- 
pectations inherent in the new situation; they want to "do their bit" 
But at the same time their established attitudes and orientations re- 

184 The Radical Right 

sist fulfillment of the obligation. In the conflict of motives which 
ensues it is a natural consequence for the resistance to be displaced 
or projected on to other objects which function as scapegoats. In 
the present situation it is precisely those parts of our population 
where individualistic traditions are strongest that are placed under 
the greatest strain, and that produce the severest resistances to ac- 
cepting the obligations of our situation. Such resistances, however, 
conflict with equally strong patriotic motives. In such a situation, 
when one's own resistance to loyal acceptance of unpalatable obliga- 
tions, such as paying high taxes, are particularly strong, it is easy to 
impute disloyal intentions to others. 

Our present emotional preoccupation with the problem of loyalty 
indicates above all that the crisis is not, as some tend to think, 
primarily concerned with fundamental values, but rather with their 
implementation. It is true that certain features of the pattern of 
reaction, such as tendencies to aggressive nationalism and to abdica- 
tion of responsibilities, would, if carried through, lead to severe con- 
flict with our values. But the main problem is not concerned with 
doubts about whether the stable political order of a free world is a 
goal worth sacrificing for, but rather with the question of how our 
population is rising or failing to rise to the challenge. 

The primary symbol that connects the objective external problem 
and its dangers with the internal strain and its structure is "Com- 
munism.'* "World Communism" and its spread constitute the fea- 
tures of the world situation on which the difficulty of our international 
problem clearly centers. Internally it is felt that Communists and 
their "sympathizers" constitute the primary focus of actual or po- 
tential disloyalty. 

With respect to the external situation, the focus of the difficulty 
in the current role of Soviet Russia is of course reasonable enough. 
Problems then arise mainly in connection with certain elements of 
"obsessiveness" in the way in which the situation is approached, 
manifested for instance in a tendency to subordinate all other ap- 
proaches to the situation exclusively to the military, and in the 
extreme violence of reaction in some circles to the Chinese situation, 
in contrast to the relative tolerance with which Yugoslavia is re- 

Internally, the realistic difficulty resides mainly in the fact that 
there has indeed been a considerable amount of Communist infiltra- 
tion in the United States, particularly in the 1930s. It is true that 

Social Strains in America 1955 185 

the Communist Party itself has never achieved great electoral suc- 
cess, but for a time Communist influence was paramount in a num- 
ber of important labor unions, and a considerable number of the 
associations Americans so like to join were revealed to be Commu- 
nist-front organizations, with effective Communist control behind the 
public participation of many non-Communists. Perhaps most impor- 
tant was the fact that considerable numbers of the intellectuals be- 
came fellow-travelers. In the days of the rise of Nazism and of the 
popular front, many of them felt that only Soviet Russia was sincere 
in its commitment to collective security; that there was a Franco- 
British "plot" to get Germany and Russia embroiled with each other, 
etc. The shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact woke up many fellow-travel- 
ers, but by no means all; and the cause was considerably retrieved 
by Hitler's attack on Russia. 

Two other features of the Communist movement which make it 
an ideal negative symbol in the context of the present loyalty prob- 
lem are the combination of conspiratorial methods and foreign con- 
trol with the progressive component of its ideological system. On 
the one hand the party has drastically repudiated the procedures of 
constitutional democracy, and on this issue has broken with all the 
democratic socialist parties of Europe; it claims the protection of 
democratic procedures and civil liberties, but does not hesitate to 
abuse them when this seems to be advantageous. There has further 
never been any question of the American party determining its own 
policies by democratic procedures. Perhaps in fact the knowledge of 
the extent to which the "front" organizations have been manipulated 
from behind the scenes has been the most disillusioning aspect for 
liberal Americans of their experience with Communism at home. 

At the same time the movement had a large content of professed 
idealism, which may be taken to account for the appeal of Com- 
munism before the Cold War era for such large elements of liberal 
opinion in the United States, as in other Western countries. Marx 
was, after all, himself a child of the Enlightenment, and the Com- 
munist movement has incorporated in its ideology many of the doc- 
trines of human rights that have formed a part of our general 
inheritance. However grossly the symbols of democracy, of the rights 
of men, of peace and brotherhood, have been abused by the Com- 
munists, they are powerful symbols in our own tradition, and their 
appeal is understandable. 

Hence the symbol "Communism" is one to which a special order 

186 The Radical Right 

of ambivalence readily attaches. It has powerful sources of appeal 
to the liberal tradition, but those who are out of sympathy with the 
main tradition of American liberalism can find a powerful target for 
their objections in the totalitarian tactics of Communism and can 
readily stigmatize it as "un-American." Then, by extending their 
objections to the liberal component of Communist ideology, they can 
attack liberalism in general, on the grounds that association with 
Communist totalitarianism makes anything liberal suspect. 

These considerations account for the anti-Communist's readiness 
to carry over a stereotype from those who have really been party 
members or advanced fellow-travelers to large elements of the in- 
tellectuals, the labor movement, etc,, who have been essentially 
democratic liberals of various shades of opinion. Since by and large 
the Democratic Party has more of this liberalism than has the Re- 
publican, it is not surprising that a tendency to label it as "sympathiz- 
ing" with or "soft toward" Communism has appeared. Such a label 
has also been extended, though not very seriously, to the Protestant 

But there is one further extension of the association that is not 
accounted for in these terms, nor is the failure to include certain 
plausible targets so accountable. The extension I have in mind is 
that which leads to the inclusion as "pro-Communist* ' of certain men 
or institutions that have been associated with political responsibility 
in the international field. Two symbols stand out here. The first is 
Dean Acheson. Mr. Acheson has for years served the Democratic 
Party. But he has belonged to the conservative, not the New Deal 
wing of the party. Furthermore, the coupling of General Marshall 
with him, though only in connection with China, and only by ex- 
tremists, clearly precludes political radicalism as the primary ob- 
jection, since Marshall has never in any way been identified with 
New Deal views. The other case is that of Harvard University as an 
alleged "hot-bed" of Communism and fellow-traveling. The relevant 
point is that Mr. Acheson typifies the "aristocrat" in public service; 
he came of a wealthy family, he went to a select private school 
(Groton) and to Yale and Harvard Law School. He represents 
symbolically those Eastern vested interests, against whom antago- 
nism has existed among the new men of the Middle West and the 
populist movement, including the descendants of recent immigrants. 
Similarly, among American universities Harvard has been partic- 
ularly identified as educating a social elite, the members of which 

Social Strains in America 1953 187 

are thought of as "just the type," in their striped trousers and morn- 
ing coats, to sell out the country to the social snobs of European 
capitals. It is the combination of aristocratic associations through 
the Boston Brahmins and a kind of urban-bohemian sophistication 
along with its devotion to intellectual and cultural values, including 
precisely its high intellectual standards, which makes Harvard a vul- 
nerable symbol in this context. 

The symbol "Communism," then, from its area of legitimate ap- 
plication, tends to be generalized to include groups in the population 
who have been associated with political liberalism of many shades 
and with intellectual values in general and to include the Eastern 
upper-class groups who have tended to be relatively internationalist 
in their outlook. 

A second underlying ambivalent attitude-structure is discernible 
in addition to that concerning the relation between the totalitarian 
and the progressive aspects of Communism. On the one hand, Com- 
munism very obviously symbolizes what is anathema to the individ- 
ualistic tradition of a business economy the feared attempt to 
destroy private enterprise and with it the great tradition of individ- 
ual freedom. But on the other hand, in order to rise to the challenge 
of the current political situation, it is necessary for the older balance 
between a free economy and the power of government to be con- 
siderably shifted in favor of the latter. We must have a stronger 
government than we have traditionally been accustomed to, and 
we must come to trust it more fully. It has had in recent times to 
assume very substantial regulatory functions in relation to the econ- 
omy, and now vastly enhanced responsibilities in relation to inter- 
national affairs. 

But, on the basis of a philosophy which, in a very different way 
from our individualistic tradition, gives primacy to "economic in- 
terests," namely the Marxist philosophy, the Communist movement 
asserts the unqualified, the totalitarian supremacy of government 
over the economy. It is precisely an actual change in our own 
system in what in one sense is clearly this direction that emerges 
as the primary focus of the frustrations to which the older Ameri- 
can system has been subjected. The leaders of the economy, the 
businessmen, have been forced to accept far more "interference" 
from government with what they have considered "their affairs" than 
they have liked. And now they must, like everyone else, pay un- 
precedentedly high taxes to support an enormous military establish- 

188 The Radical Right 

merit, and give the government in other respects unprecedentedly 
great powers over the population. The result of this situation is an 
ambivalence of attitude that on the one hand demands a stringent 
display of loyalty going to lengths far beyond our tradition of in- 
dividual liberty, and on the other hand is ready to blame elements 
which by ordinary logic have little or nothing to do with Communism, 
for working in league with the Communist movement to create this 
horrible situation. 

Generally speaking, the indefensible aspect of this tendency in a 
realistic assessment appears in a readiness to question the loyalty 
of all those who have assumed responsibility for leadership in meet- 
ing the exigencies of the new situation. These include many who 
have helped to solve the internal problems of the control of the 
economy, those who in the uneasy later 'thirties and the first phase 
of the war tried to get American policy and public opinion to face 
the dangers of the international situation, and those who since the 
war have tried to take responsibility in relation to the difficult post- 
provide some realistic basis for -this tendency. In fact many elements 
who are also presumptively tainted with Communism. Here again, 
admittedly, certain features of our historical record and attitudes 
provide some realistic basis for this tendency. In fact many elements 
in both parties have failed lamentably to assess correctly the dangers 
of the situation, both internally and externally. New Dealers have 
stigmatized even the most responsible elements of the business world 
as economic royalists and the like, while many elements in business 
have clung long past a reasonable time to an outmoded belief in 
the possibility of a society with only a "night watchman" government. 
In foreign affairs, some members of the Democratic Party have been 
slow to learn how formidable a danger was presented by totalitarian 
Communism, but this is matched by the utopianism of many Re- 
publicans about the consequences of American withdrawal from in- 
ternational responsibilities, through high tariffs as well as political 
isolationism. The necessity to learn the hard realities of a complex 
world and the difficulty of the process is not a task to be imposed 
on only part of the body politic. No party or group can claim a 
monopoly either of patriotic motive or of competent understanding 
of affairs. 

In a double sense, then, Communism symbolizes "the intruder." 
Externally the world Communist movement is the obvious source of 
the most serious difficulties we have to face. On the other hand, 

Social Strains in America 1955 189 

although Communism has constituted to some degree a realistic in- 
ternal danger, it has above all come to symbolize those factors that 
have disturbed the beneficent natural state of an American society 
which allegedly and in phantasy existed before the urgent problems 
of control of the economy and greatly enhanced responsibility in 
international affairs had to be tackled. 

Against this background it can perhaps be made clear why the 
description of McCarthyism as simply a political reactionary move- 
ment is inadequate. In the first place, it is clearly not simply a cloak 
for the "vested interests" but rather a movement that profoundly 
splits the previously dominant groups. This is evident in the split, 
particularly conspicuous since about 1952, within the Republican 
Party. An important part of the business elite, especially in the 
Middle West and in Texas, the "newest" area of all, have tended 
in varying degrees to be attracted by the McCarthy appeal. But 
other important groups, notably in the East, have shied away from it 
and apparently have come to be more and more consolidated against 
it. Very broadly, these can be identified with the business element 
among the Eisenhower Republicans. 

But at the same time the McCarthy following is by no means con- 
fined to the vested-interest groups. There has been an important 
popular following of very miscellaneous composition. It has com- 
prised an important part of those who aspire to full status in the 
American system but have, realistically or not, felt discriminated 
against in various ways, especially the Mid-Western lower and 
lower middle classes and much of the population of recent immi- 
grant origin. The elements of continuity between Western agrarian 
populism and McCarthyism are not by any means purely fortuitous. 
At the levels of both leadership and popular following, the division 
of American political opinion over this issue cuts clean across the 
traditional lines of distinction between "conservatives" and "progres- 
sives" especially where that tends to be defined, as it so often is, in 
terms of the capitalistic or moneyed interests as against those who 
seek to bring them under more stringent control. McCarthyism is 
both a movement supported by certain vested-interest elements and 
a popular revolt against the upper classes. 

Another striking characteristic of McCarthyism is that it is highly 
selective in the liberal causes it attacks. Apart from the issue of 
Communism in the labor unions, now largely solved, there has been 
no concerted attack on the general position of the labor movement. 

190 The Radical Right 

Further, the social program aimed toward the reduction of racial 
discrimination has continued to be pressed, to which fact the de- 
cision of the Supreme Court outlawing segregation in public educa- 
tion and its calm reception provide dramatic evidence. Neverthe- 
less., so far as I am aware there has been no outcry from McCarthyite 
quarters to the effect that this decision is further evidence of Com- 
munist influence in high circles in spite of the fact that eight out 
of nine members of the present court were appointed by Roosevelt 
and Truman. 

Perhaps even more notable is the fact that, unlike the 1930s, when 
Father Coughlin and others were preaching a vicious anti-Semi- 
tism, anti-Semitism as a public issue has since the war been very 
nearly absent from the American scene. This is of course associated 
with full employment. But particularly in view of the rather large 
and conspicuous participation of Jewish intellectuals in the fellow- 
traveling of the 1930s, it is notable that Jewishness has not been 
singled out as a symbolic focus for the questioning of loyalty. A 
critical difference from German Nazism is evident here. To the Nazis 
the Jew was the primary negative symbol, the Communist the 
most prominent secondary one. But it must also be remembered 
that capitalism was symbolically involved. One of the functions 
of the Jew was to link Communism and capitalism together. This 
trio were the "intruders" to the Nazis. They symbolized different 
aspects of the disturbance created by the rapid development of in- 
dustrialism to the older pre-industrial Gemeinschajt of German po- 
litical romanticism. It was the obverse of the American case a new 
economy destroying an old political system, not new political re- 
sponsibilities interfering with the accustomed ways of economic life. 

Negatively, then, the use of the symbol "Communism" as the 
focus of anxiety and aggression is associated with a high order of 
selectivity among possibly vulnerable targets. This selectivity is, I 
submit, consistent with the hypothesis that the focus of the strain 
expressed by McCarthyism lies in the area of political responsi- 
bility not, as Marxists would hold, in the structure of the economy 
as such, nor in the class structure in any simple, Marxian-tinged 

The same interpretation is confirmed by the evidence on the 
positive side. The broadest formula for what the McCarthyites posi- 
tively "want" besides the elimination of all Communist influence, 
real or alleged is perhaps "isolationism." The dominant note is, I 

Social Strains in America 1955 191 

think, the regressive one. It is the wishful preservation of an old 
order, which allegedly need never have been disturbed but for the 
wilful interference of malevolent elements, Communists and their 
sympathizers. The nationalistic overtones center on a phantasy of a 
happy "American way" where everything used to be all right. 
Naturally it is tinged with the ideology of traditional laissez-faire, but 
not perhaps unduly so. Also it tends to spill over into a kind of ir- 
ritated activism. On the one hand we want to keep out of trouble; 
but on the other hand, having identified an enemy, we want to 
smash him forthwith. The connection between the two can be seen, 
for example, in relation to China, where the phantasy seems to be 
that by drastic action it would be possible to "clean up" the Chinese 
situation quickly and then our troubles would be over. 

The main contention of these pages has been that McCarthyism 
is best understood as a symptom of the strains attendant on a deep- 
seated process of change in our society, rather than as a "move- 
ment" presenting a policy or set of values for the American people 
to act on. Its content is overwhelmingly negative, not positive. It 
advocates "getting rid" of undesirable influences, and has amazingly 
little to say about what should be done. 

This negativism is primarily the expression of fear, secondarily of 
anger, the aggression which is a product of frustration. The solu- 
tion, which is both realistically feasible and within the great Ameri- 
can tradition, is to regain our national self-confidence and to take 
active steps to cope with the situation with which we are faced. 

On the popular level the crisis is primarily a crisis of confidence. 
We are baffled and anxious, and tend to seek relief in hunting 
scapegoats. We must improve our understanding and come to realize 
our strength and trust in it. But this cannot be done simply by wish- 
ing it to be done. I have consistently argued that the changed situa- 
tion in which we are placed demands a far-reaching change in the 
structure of our society. It demands policies, and confidence, but it 
demands more than these. It demands above all three things. The 
first is a revision of our conception of citizenship to encourage the 
ordinary man to accept greater responsibility. The second is the 
development of the necessary implementing machinery. Third is na- 
tional political leadership, not only in the sense of individual candi- 
dates for office or appointment, but in the sense of social strata 
where a traditional political responsibility is ingrained. 

192 The Radical Right 

The most important of these requirements is the third. Under 
American conditions, a politically leading stratum must be made up 
of a combination of business and nonbusiness elements. The role of 
the economy in American society and of the business element in it is 
such that political leadership without prominent business participa- 
tion is doomed to ineffectiveness and to the perpetuation of dangerous 
internal conflict. It is not possible to lead the American people 
against the leaders of the business world. But at the same time, so 
varied now are the national elements which make a legitimate claim 
to be represented, the business element cannot monopolize or domi- 
nate political leadership and responsibility. Broadly, I think, a politi- 
cal elite in the two main aspects of "politicians" whose specialties 
consist in the management of public opinion, and of "administrators" 
in both civil and military services, must be greatly strengthened. It 
is here that the practical consequences of McCarthyism run most 
directly counter to the realistic needs of the time. But along with 
such a specifically political elite there must also be close alliance 
with other, predominantly "cultural" elements, notably perhaps in 
the universities, but also in the churches. 

In the final sense, then, the solution of the problem of McCarthy- 
ism lies in the successful accomplishment of the social changes to 
which we are called by our position in the world and by our own 
domestic requirements. We have already made notable progress 
toward this objective; the current flare-up of stress in the form of 
McCarthyism can be taken simply as evidence that the process is 
not complete. 


Social in 

A Postscript 1962 


I THINK that the diagnosis I put forward originally can 
stand. McCarthyism was essentially a crisis of national solidarity in 
the face of what, for us as a nation, were accumulating and un- 
precedented political demands and responsibilities. The precipitating 
factor was the Korean War, which, acting as a "last straw," frustrated 
the expectations of relaxation that many Americans held after the 
end of the big war, a war that itself was entered into only after 
serious internal division and conflict. The focus of the strain was 
the problem of national loyalty. But the very insistence on national 
loyalty created a paradox that Edward Shils, in Ms The Torment of 
Secrecy, has highlighted more clearly than anyone else, in that the 
very demand for nearly absolute national loyalty undermined our 
national capacities for effective action. 

One of the most striking features of the McCarthy movement was 
its intensity while it lasted, and the rapidity with which it subsided 
when the "bubble" finally burst. Though more deep-rooted and 
underlying strains may have been involved and may _ still ,,be 
McCarthyism as a social threat was more Clearly analogous, Jo, a ^fi- 
nancial panic, say, than to a long-drawn-out depression. Putting the 
situation in terms of that analogy may help to clarify the ways in which 
the strain operated. When there is a run on the bank by depositors the 
tendency is, in a cumulative regression, to more and more "ele- 
mentary" monetary transactions. In the ordinary course of busi- 
ness "cash" is only a minor convenience, for most transactions 
are carried out essentially by exchange of deposits within a credit 
system. But if too many depositors want payment all at once, these 

194 The Radical Right 

demands cannot be honored and the credit system maintained. 
"Logically" the end of the line of monetary deflation, of course, is a 
return to species payments, or the use of metal, the toting of which 
would make any commercial transaction quite weighty. Such a 
downward spin can only be checked by a restoration of "confidence," 
which means willingness to accept payment other than "hard" cash 
the return to credit. In short, there has to be a foundation of trust 
for the credit system to operate. 

McCarthyism was such a "deflationary spiral." The "credit" re- 
pudiated was the ordinary level of commitment of the citizen to the 
national interest, which in a pluralistic society is virtually never total. 
What the McCarthyites demanded of those who claimed to be 
"trustworthy" was not fulfillment of ordinary obligations, but an 
absolute guarantee that no other commitment could conceivably 
compete with what they called "loyalty" to the government. 

Obviously this pressure generated a special kind of conflict in 
American society. We have a tradition that the claims of government 
on the individual are relatively minimal, and the presumptive moral- 
ity is one of defense of individual rights against government. In the 
1950s we were made acutely aware of the serious threats to national 
security and of the necessity of strengthening the government in ways 
that, in some sense, involved a sacrifice of private rights. 
"^ In such a situation there will necessarily be widespread ambiva- 
lence, and it was to be expected that the phenomenon of scapegoat- 
ing would be prominent. It was my view, as stated in the original 
paper, that the most prominent scourgers would be those who had a 
strong moral as well as "material" vested interest in limiting the 
powers of government, and that the victims would be those who had 
on the whole taken the initiative in realistic attempts to meet the 
situation. From this point of view it was not unintelligible that the 
men who had entered government service were the ones most 
victimized. (This is perhaps analogous to the banker who, having 
taken the responsibility for lending "other people's money" is then, 
by populistic demand, subjected to the most rigorous checking, so 
that even any minor loss through error of judgment comes to be 
attributed to his bad faith.) 

The qjKaSifiaLJS^^ 

Lt^ There is, it seems to me, a common substratum, 

Social Strains in America: A Postscript 1962 195 

but in many respects the current flare-up has markedly different 

The <^w^^^o^s^^js^^^^ 

tion that derives, from , the maim, pattern -of 

society. In the broadest sense which can be made to 
correspond only approximately to political-party divisions the 
"right" is the protest against the fact that American society is chang- 
ing, and against the direction of change. The United States is a 
society that has been evolving toward increasing complexities and scale 
of its organization and functions; a greater concentration of popula- 
tion and activities in complex communities; increasing responsibility 
in the world political system; and a higher order of technology, knowl- 
edge, sophistication, and the like. The conservatives are the rear- 
guard resistance to this trend. 

Common to all the multifarious aspects of the right wing is a cer- 
tain type of "individualism." It has such facets as the individualism 
of the small unit as against the large the independent entrepreneur 
versus the large corporation and similarly the rural and small town 
versus the city and the metropolis. As regards international relations, 
this individualism romanticizes our earlier lack of involvement in 
the complex world of power relations, when America could be left 
to work out its own destiny. Most generally perhaps this individual- 
ism is the idealization of pristine simplicity as against organizational 
and other complexity. 

In the general picture, the current right seems to be the more 
regressive of the two, and for that very reason possibly less threaten- 
ing, since the radical wing of conservatism is likely to be excluded 
from power. In understanding its salience it should also be remem- 
bered that while McCarthyism started during the latter part of the 
Truman administration, it came to a head under a Republican ad- 
ministration. The so-called "resurgence" of the right in the past year 
is, in part, undoubtedly a simple function of the Republican Party's 
again going into opposition. 

In spite of this common substratum, in an important sense the 
current rightist preoccupations, typified perhaps by the John Birch 
Society, are the obverse of the McCarthyites. The right of the 1960s 
shares, of ^cpu^se^^tiie^jmbol^ of ^ Communism as the source ofjaQ 
eyil > .l>Jit jts meaning has-been shifted in a way "that brings to the 
fore the other side of an ambivalent motivational complex. 

An important symptom of the difference between McCarthyism 

196 The Radical Right 

and Birchism is the shift in the geographical center of gravity. 1 This 
is a move from the Middle West to the Southwest. (Texas, to be 
sure, is the common sector in both movements, and to some extent 
the same is true of that perennial hothouse of the exotic, Southern 
California.) This is no accident; the Southwest is the nearest thing 
left to a frontier, or, more specifically, Texas and Southern Cali- 
fornia are the sections that, despite a rapidly burgeoning urban civi- 
lization, still cherish the illusion that the old frontier is alive. 

The essential point about the frontier is that it was the situation 
in legend at least of the predominance of self-help. Here a man 
who was allegedly really a man was most obviously "on his own." 
If "bad" men were about, he had to defend himself and of course 
the good women with his bare fists or his six-shooter. He made his 
living "honestly'* by wrestling with nature in the form of recalci- 
trant soils, drought, storm, and "ornery" beasts so that no one 
could say when he won that it was because he was dependent on 
anyone. 2 

It seems to me that it is this fierce and hence "defensive" inde- 
pendence^^cFirffi^ ?iM* 3 The good 

life is to be completely untamed by the disciplines of complex soci- 
ety. From the point of view of this individualism, the income tax is 
a "tribute" exacted by a "foreign" unsurper; namely, the urban, and 
more or less European, America. The income tax attacks on which 
were by no means absent from the ideology of the McCarthy era (cf. 
the views of the late Representative Carroll Reece) has been up- 
graded to become almost the central symbol of evil; i.e., the first 
entering wedge of "Communism." The reason why it is unexcep- 
tionably "Communist" is simply that it presumes to assert the au- 
thority of government. By taking away what "belongs to" the tax- 
payer, it symbolizes the arbitrariness in almost any regulation of the 
complete freedom of the individual to "do what he will with his 
own," and defend himself against comers who challenge his rights. 

This is the essential structure of the ambivalence. The McCarthy- 
ites demanded absolute subordination of all private rights to the 
government. McCarthy was in effect the most drastically radical 
"Socialist" imaginable. The Bircher demands nearly absolute im- 
munity from any type of public control over his independence. 

In this regard, the image of Communism is somewhat different in 
the two cases. In the original paper I argued that for the McCarthy- 
ites the aggression against the source that called for the development 

Social Strains in America: A Postscript 1962 197 

of government was the key to its pattern. To meet the threat of real 
Communism, there was a strengthening of responsible government 
and more centralized authority. To fight "Communism," which 
stands for the total state, McCarthy demanded even more central- 
ized government. This is a motivational mechanism operating analo- 
gously to the normal oedipal situation the resentment against the 
"father" as the symbolic source of the pressure to grow up, but also 
an identification with him. TJ^J^tCa^ abso- 

lute loyalty, were in fact promoting a kind of distorted ^ identification 
wMLgpyemment The identification was carried out in a destructive 
way so as to threaten the many altogether legitimate pluralistic 
loyalties and associations, to subordinate them altogether too dras- 
tically to the one national loyalty, and in the process to attack large 
numbers of completely innocent persons and in general spread an 
atmosphere of unwarranted distrust. 

Except for the readiness in quick anger to deal summarily with 
sources of frustration, and hence to demand total victory over in- 
ternational Communism, the ij^flgit movements seem to lack this 
element of identification. Hence they r^,^Qre,je^essiye w &^ mK Mc7 
Carthy, ^in that ^_%ey^ apparently 

seiye .the sociSx^ a Mantiie" state of QjQiy^^^k^' Their in- 
fluence is even more drastically "deflationary" than the McCarthyite, 
in the constriction of commitments to the more highly organized 
sectors of society. TMs includes the extensive functions of govern- 
ment, but it also goes beyond them. Even the large corporation is in 
some sense felt to be vaguely "Socialistic," in that it interferes with 
the complete independence of the small man. 

In this sense, the Birchers are the extreme wing of a much more 
ramified complex. The central focus of it seems to be the political 
rear-guard action (and its roots in the social structure) of the rural 
and small-town elements in the society, which have been able to 
"dig in," above all through legislative refusal to redistrict, first for the 
House of Representatives, but even more for the state legislature. In 
this connection, the question of "equal protection of the laws' 3 
through fair representation is slowly building up to becoming the 
most important internal political question of the society, a question 
that crosscuts many of the older bases of political differentiation and 
segmentation, most conspicuously, of course, underlying the coalition 
of Republicans and Southern Democrats. 4 

But one must see, too, that "individualism" is by no means con- 

198 The Radical Right 

fined to a complex of what I have here called "regressive" at- 
titudes. There is an opposite group whose orientation, though 
"ideological," presents a very different case from that of the reac- 
tionary individualists. These are the intellectuals whom Winston 
White has called the Moralizers. 5 Regarding themselves as liberals, 
or left of center, they deplore many of the features of contemporary 
society, in particular what they hold to be the increasing pressures 
to "conformity," but they also stress the importance of the respon- 
sibility of the individual, not for "self-help," but for the welfare of 
the society, and hence for the collective interest of the nation as a 
whole. They stand in an obverse relation to the Birchers, but in a 
quite different direction from that of the McCarthyites. The element 
of acceptance of the developing social order, of "identification" with 
it, as described above, is stronger for them than for the McCarthyites. 
It does not, however, involve a coerced loyalty, but the opposite a 
free acceptance of individual responsibility to the point of often 
being Utopian about the necessity for formal organization and for 
authority that can implement important collective goals. Whereas 
the JBirch_ersjare drastically "deflation^ sort 

of social j^onsib^^ 

seem to hold that full conunitment of the indivMual is enough^-the, 
practical organization and Ipapw^liQw are secondly,, 

But there is a third, and indeed a very different type of individual- 
ism that is focal to the whole American pattern of values and at- 
titudes the strong emphasis on freedom and responsibility of the 
individual -within a framework of both normative order and collective 
organization. This is what on occasion I have called "institutional- 
ized individualism," using Durkheim's famous analysis of the rela- 
tion between contractual agreements and the "non-contractual" in- 
stitutional elements of contract as a prototype. 6 In this point of view, 
we can see society as providing for more complex, more technical, 
and more "professional" jobs; allowing for more variety of choices, 
in occupation and in culture, and providing greater diversity within 
the framework of organization. It is my strong conviction that the 
main trend of development in the society is individualistic in this 
sense. 7 

The regressive individualism of which the Birchers are the ex- 
treme examples is very different from this. Regressive individualism 
resists the processes of institutional change by virtue of which a more 
complex and hence more effective division of labor or differentiation 

Social Strains in America: A Postscript 1962 199 

has been developing, by which there has developed an increasingly 
ramified system of pluralistic collective solidarities and enterprises 
(including, of course, the enterprises of government but by no 
means confined to them 8 ), and, finally, by which there has been 
developing a more generalized and elaborated system of norms, 
especially at the level of law, through which the inevitably complex 
relations of such a society come to be regulated. Seen in this per- 
spective, the Birchers are the generic type of the true "reactionary." 
The phrase that has already been rather widely applied to them and 
to groups like them that they want to "repeal the twentieth cen- 
tury" seems to sum them up very well indeed. 

*For emphasizing this point, as well as considerable contribution to the 
general pattern of analysis outlined here, I am indebted to Dr. Winston White. 

2 A paradigmatic case of this frontier mentality is described in E. Z. Vogt, 
Jr., Modern Homesteaders (Harvard University Press), a study of "Texan" 
migrants into a semi-arid section of New Mexico. 

3 Another interesting manifestation of this complex is the part it plays in 
the opposition to the fluoridation of water supplies. 

4 The decision of the Supreme Court to restrict the legislatures' freedom to 
avoid redistricting may prove to be a highly important factor in this situation. 

5 Beyond Conformity (Free Press, 1961). 

6 Cf . Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society, Bk. I, Ch. 7. 

7 Perhaps the fullest statement of the sense in which this is the case yet 
published is Parsons and White, "The Link Between Character and Society," 
in Lipset and Lowenthal, editors, Culture and Social Character (Free Press, 

8 Durkheim was one of the few to see clearly that the "division of labor" 
In the private sector must proceed concomrtantly with increasing elaboration 
of the functions of government. Cf . Durkheim, op. ciL 



Left" in the 



IN APRIL of 1961, the Gallup Pol asked a nationwide 
sample of Americans whether they had heard of the John Birch 
Society. The poll indicated that 'thirty-nine million persons an ex- 
traordinary number, according to Gallup had read or heard of the 
Birchers. Of these, 44 per cent had an unfavorable estimate of the 
Society, 9 per cent were favorable, and 47 per cent had not yet 
reached a judgment. In one sense, these figures suggest a five-to-one 
rejection of the Birchers. But the figures also indicate that at the 
moment when the Society was receiving highly damaging publicity 
when the mass media were featuring the charge by Birch founder 
Robert Welch that President Eisenhower was "a dedicated, con- 
scious agent of the Communist conspiracy" a projected three and a 
half million persons still perceived the Society as a commendable, 
patriotic anti-Communist organization. If the undecided 47 per cent 
were to be divided in the same proportion as those who had reached 
a judgment (and this might underweight pro-Birch sentiment), an- 
other three and a half million persons would be added to the ranks 
of the approving. By this estimate, as many as seven million Amer- 

* Copyright 1962 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated. Copyright 
1961 by Alan F. Westin. 

202 The Radical Right 

icans from among the most public-affairs-conscious forty million of 
our adult population seemed to be favorably impressed with the 
John Birch Society. 

Between this poll and the beginning of 1962, virtually the entire 
religious, civic, and political Establishment of the nation rose to de- 
nounce the John Birch Society by name. Exposes filled the general 
and special media, while Robert Welch continued to contribute out- 
landish accusations to feed the exposes and dismay his conservative 
well-wishers. Yet when the Gallup Poll again asked a nationwide 
sample about the Birchers, in February, 1962, 8 per cent of the now 
fifty-six million who had heard of the Society were still favorably 
impressed. (43 per cent were unfavorable and 49 per cent had no 
opinion.) This represents a projected four and a half million approv- 
ing citizens, with a potential among the undecided of another five 
million, making a "hard core 5 ' of nine and a half million Americans 
who are assumed to see the Birch Society as a useful organization in 
the anti-Communist cause.f 

The explanation of this high degree of interest is that the Birch 
Society had become, for the while, the most appealing, activist, and 
efficient movement to appear on the extreme right since the fertile 
decade of the 1930s. Birch membership in 1962 was estimated by 
most observers at sixty thousand and was distributed widely through- 
out the nation, with particular strength in traditional centers of fun- 
damentalism like Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Wichita, and 
Boston. This membership provided an annual-dues income of 
$1,300,000. Life membership at $1000, special donations by 
wealthy supporters, and sales of Society literature added perhaps 
$300,000 more, giving the group a working fund of $1,600,000 a 
year. As of early 1962, the Society, by its own count, had 41 staff 
workers in its home offices in Belmont, Massachusetts; 35 fully 
salaried and expenses-paid traveling "coordinators"; and 70 par- 
tially paid "volunteer" co-ordinators. The staff payroll alone was 
$12,000 a week, or $625,000 a year. During 1961 and 1962, the 
effect of this well-financed, well-staffed, and well-led apparatus had 
been felt in the civic and political life of dozens of local communities, 
and "Bircher" had become an instantly recognized term of political 
description. Such a phenomenon is worth close attention and analy- 

f For a more detailed breakdown of this survey, see pp. 344-48. 

The John Birch Society 1962 203 

However much factors like urbanization, the cold war, and status 
insecurities may have provided a new setting for native fundamen- 
talists, a large and irreducible corps of such people has always ex- 
isted in the United States. Unlike American liberals and conserva- 
tives who accept the political system, acknowledge the loyalty of 

their opponents, and employ the ordinary political techniques the 

can be distinguished by five identifying characteris- 

(1) They assume that there are always solutions capable of pro- 
ducing international victories and of resolving our social problems; 
when such solutions are not found, they attribute the failure to con- 
srfoa^s led by evil men and their dupes. 

^\T2 j\They refuse to believe in the integrity and patriotism of those 
who lead the dominant social groups-^-the churches, the unions, the 
business community, and the like and declare that the American 
Establishment has become part of the conspiracy, 

(3) They reject the political system; they lash out at "politicians," 
flie major parties, and the give and take of political compromise as 
a betrayal of the fundamental Truth and as a circus to divert the 

(4) They reject those programs for dealing with social, economic, 
tod international problems that liberals and conservatives agree 
upon as minimal foundations. In their place, the fundamentalists pro- 
pose drastic panaceas requiring major social change. 

(5) To break the net of conspiracy, they advocate "direct action," 
sometimes in the form of a new political party, but more often 
through secret organizations, push-button pressure campaigns, and 
front groups. Occasionally "direct action" will develop into hate- 
propaganda and calculated violence. 

Today, right-fundamentalism spans a broad spectrum. At one 
pole is the "hate" right, led by the Conde McGinleys, Gerald L. K. 
Smiths, Admiral Crommelins, Father Terminellos, John Kaspers, 
and George Rockwells, who offer various combinations of anti- 
Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-Negro sentiment. These groups are 
thoroughly discredited in contemporary America, and the major 
problem they present is a matter of defining the line that our law 
should draw between deviant expression and hate-mongering or 

204 The Radical Right 

advocacy of violence. At the other pole is the semi-respectable right. 
Here we encounter a variety of different political and educational 
organizations including the Foundation for Economic Education 
the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Committee for Con- 
stitutional Government, and the White Citizens Councils of the 
South. Socially prominent figures belong to such groups, which are 
well financed, often have connections with local and national major- 
party factions, and exercise substantial lobbying influence. Their sup- 
porters and leaders may long to break with the two-party system and 
start a rightist party, but they are restrained by the knowledge that 
this would isolate them and thus diminish their present effectiveness. 

The John Birch Society stands between, the "hate" right and the 
semi-respectable right. In order to get a precise picture of its ideology 
and tactics, I examined the published works issued by the Society 
since its formation in 1958: the 1961 annotated edition of the Blue 
BwK^oftfie John Birch Society, its operating manual and theological 
fount; the monthly Bulletin, which is sent to members and contains 
the agenda of activities (the 1960 issues of the Bulletin are available 
in a bound edition entitled The White Book of the John Birch 
Society)*, those writings of Robert Welch that have been officially 
incorporated into and reprinted by the Society (e.g., The Life of 
John Birch, May God Forgive Us, A Letter to the South on Segre- 
gation)*, and every issue of American Opinion, the monthly publica- 
tion edited by Robert Welch for the Society, published before 1958 
under the title One Man's Opinion. 

Measured by its official materials, the authenticated accounts of 
Welch's speeches, and public comments by members of the Society's 
Council, the Society emerges as a purebred specimen of American 

(1) Its image of 'world events and American politics is wholly 
conspiratorial. In the July, 1960, Bulletin, Welch explains that the 
"key" to the advance of world Communism "is treason right within 
our government and the place to find it is right in Washington." The 
danger, Welch says in the Blue Book, "is almost entirely in- 
ternal." And it is "a certainty," he writes in May God Forgive Us, 
that there are "more Communists and Communist sympathizers in 
Dur government today than ever before." As recently as January, 
1961, Welch was informing his supporters that "Communist influ- 
ences are now in almost complete control of our Federal Govem- 

The John Birch Society 1962 205 

Each year since 1958, Welch and his "board of experts" have 
published a "score board" rating all the nations of the world ac- 
cording to the "present degree of Communist influence and control 
over the economic and political affairs" of the country. In 1958, the 
United States was rated as 20-40 per cent under Communist con- 
trol; in 1959, the United States went up to 30-50 per cent; and in 
1960, the figure climbed to 40-60 per cent. (At that pace, we will 
reach the 80-100-per-cent mark in 1964.) England's rating went 
from 20-40 per cent in 1958 to 50-70 per cent in 1960. Israel is 
presently rated as 40-60 per cent controlled; Egypt 80-100 per cent. 

Everywhere, the Birchers advise, Communists are at the heart of 
events, even among some events that might seem to less skilled ob- 
servers remote from Kremlin direction. In an open letter to Khru- 
shchev in 1958, Welch said, "Your hands played the decisive un- 
seen part" in the run on American banks and their closing in 1933. 
It was the Communist-contrived recognition of the Soviets in 1933 
that "saved them from financial collapse." The "very idea of Ameri- 
can foreign aid was dreamed up by Stalin, or by his agents for 
him." The "trouble in the South over integration is Communist- 
contrived"; the Communists have invented a "phoney 'civil rights' 
slogan to stir up bitterness and civil disorder, leading gradually to 
police-state rule by federal troops and armed resistance to that 
rule." The United States Supreme Court "is one of the most im- 
portant agencies of Communism." The Federal Reserve system is 
a "realization" of "Point 5" of the Communist Manifesto, calling 
for centralization of credit in the hands of the state. The purpose 
of proposed legislation requiring registration of privately owned 
firearms is to aid .the Communists in making "ultimate seizure of 
such by the government easier and more complete." Everywhere, 
Welch concludes, the Communists are winning in "the press, the 
pulpit, the radio and television media, the labor unions, the schools, 
the courts, and the legislative halls of America." 

All the above descriptions of conspiratorial trends have been 
from official Birch Society literature, what Welch calls the 

grows darker when 
one turns to the Black Book, or, as it is more commonly known, 
The Politician the book-length "letter" that Welch circulated "pri- 
vately" to hundreds of persons but that the Society has carefully 
rejected as an official document. The Politician is to the Society 
what Leninist dogma is to the Communist-front groups in Western 

206 The Radical Right 

or neutralist nations it is the ultimate truth held by the founder 
and his hard core, but it is too advanced and too powerful to 
present, as yet, to the "masses" being led. In The Politician, Welch 
names names. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower; Sec- 
retary of State John Foster Dulles; C.I.A. Director Allen Dulles; 
Chief Justice Warren all of these men are called knowing instru- 
ments of the Communist conspiracy. 

It is worth noting that Eisenhower and his administration draw 
the strongest venom in The Politician. For Welch, the Eisenhower 
administration was a betrayal that could only have had Communists 
at its source. "For many reasons and after a lot of study," Welch 
writes, "I personally believe [John Foster] Dulles to be a Com- 
munist agent." "Allen Dulles is the most protected and untouch- 
able supporter of Communism, next to Eisenhower himself, in 
Washington." Arthur K Burns's job as head of the Council of eco- 
nomic Advisers "has been merely a cover-up for Bums's liaison 
work between Eisenhower and some of his Communist bosses." 
"The chances are very strong that Milton Eisenhower is actually 
Dwight Eisenhower's superior and boss within the Communist 
Party.'* As for Dwight Eisenhower himself, Welch states unequiv- 
ocally: "There is only one possible word to describe [Eisenhower's] 
purpose and actions. That word is treason." "My firm belief that 
Dwight Eisenhower is a dedicated, conscious agent of the Com- 
munist conspiracy," he continues, "is based on an accumulation of 
detailed evidence so extensive and so palpable that it seems to put 
this conviction beyond any reasonable doubt." Discussing what he 
terms Eisenhower's "mentality of fanaticism," Welch even refuses 
to accept the thought that Ike may just be an "opportunistic poli- 
tician" aiding the Communists. "I personally think he has been sym- 
pathetic to ultimate Communist aims, realistically willing to use 
Communist means to help them achieve their goals, knowingly ac- 
cepting and abiding by Communist orders, and consciously serving 
the Communist conspiracy for all of his adult life." 

(2) The Birchers impugn the integrity and patriotism of those 
at the head of the major social and economic groups of the na- 
tion. In a supplement to the February, 1961, Bulletin, Welch an- 
nounced that "Communist influences" are "very powerful in the top 
echelons of our educational system, our labor-union organizations, 
and of almost every important segment of our national life. Insidi- 
ously but rapidly the Communists are now reaching the tentacles 

The John Birch Society 1962 207 

of their conspiracy downward throughout the whole social, eco- 
nomic, and political pyramid." Thus, the National Council of 
Churches of Christ is Communist-minded, and from three to five 
per cent of the Protestant clergy have been called actual Commu- 
nists. "Treason," Welch further declares, "is widespread and ramp- 
ant in our high army circles." The American Medical Association 
has been "took" and can no longer be depended upon for support 
in the fight against Socialism, So too with the United States Cham- 
ber of Commerce, which has been preaching dangerously liberal 
and internationalist doctrines in its courses on practical politics. 
(When Chamber leaders protested this slur, Welch replied that their 
outraged reaction was exactly like that of the State Department in 
the 1940s, when charges of Communist infiltration were first 
raised.) The leadership of our universities, corporations, founda- 
tions, communications media all are riddled with Communists, or 
"Comsymps" (a word Welch coined to avoid having to say whether 
a given person was a real party member or only a sympathizer). 

Naturally, Welch and Ms colleagues are certain that these "Com- 
symp" elites are out to destroy him and his movement References 
to persecution and images of martyrdom abound in Birch literature, 
ranging from incessant mention of how the patron saint (Senator 
McCarthy) was driven to his death, to suggestions that Welch may 
be murdered one day by the Communists. 

(3) The Birchers are convinced that the Communists have gone 
so jar in penetrating American politics that there is little hope in 
the existing political system. In his letter to Khrushchev, Welch 
wrote that the Communists obviously intended to "maintain and in- 
crease [their] working control over both our major political par- 
ties." We cannot count on "politicians, political leadership or even 
political action." Though he advocates the nomination, on an Ameri- 
can Party ticket, of Senator Barry Goldwater for President and 
J. Strom Thurmond for Vice-President in 1964, Welch has warned 
his followers that even Goldwater the most "Americanist" figure 
around in politics at the moment is "still a politician" and there- 
fore not to be relied upon. Welch has also had some things to say 
about "Jumping Jack" Kennedy. According to Welch, the nation 
received "the exact Communist line . . . from Jack Kennedy's 
speeches, as quickly and faithfully as from the Worker or the Na- 
tional Guardian. . . ." 

(4) Most of the Birch Society's positive program consists of 

208 The Radical Right 

advocating the repeal of things or the removal of the nation from 
something or somewhere. A partial list of the things that the Society 
describes as wicked. Communist, and dangerous includes: U.S. 
membership in the United Nations, the International Labor Organ- 
ization, the World Health Organization, the International Trade 
Organization, UNICEF (the United Nations International Children's 
Emergency Fund); membership in GATT (the General Agreement 
on Trades and Tariffs); reciprocal trade agreements; the "useless and 
costly" NATO; "so-called defense spending"; all foreign aid; diplo- 
matic relations with the Soviet Union and all other Communist na- 
tions; the National Labor Relations Act; social security; the gradu- 
ated income tax; the Rural Electrification Administration, the 
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the T.V.A.; government 
wage and price controls; "forced integration"; "deliberately fraudu- 
lent" U.S. government bonds; the Federal Reserve System; urban 
renewal; fluoridation; metro government; the corporate-dividend 
tax; the "mental-health racket"; federal aid to housing; and 'all pro- 
grams "regimenting" farmers. 

(5) Finally, the Birch Society advocates both fi direct action 39 
and "dirty tactics" to "break the grip of the Communist conspiracy" 
Unlike those right-fundamentalist groups that have energetic leaders 
but passive memberships, the Birchers are decidedly activist. "Get 
to work or learn to talk Russian" is a slogan Welch recommends 
to his followers, and they are certainly hard at work. From national 
headquarters in Behnont, Massachusetts, Welch formulates a set of 
complementary national and local action programs, then issues them 
to members through directives in the Bulletin and contacts with 
chapter leaders. A mixture of traditional and fundamentalist tech- 
niques is prescribed. The local programs include infiltration of com- 
munity organizations such as the P.-T.A. ("to take them away from 
the Communists"); harassment of "pro-Communist" speakers at 
church meetings, political gatherings, and public forums; creation 
of local front groups (e.g., the Committee Against Summit En- 
tanglements, College Graduates Against Educating Traitors at Gov- 
ernment Expense, the Committee to Impeach Earl Warren, and 
the Committee to Investigate Communist Influences at Vassar Col- 
lege); campaigns to secure endorsement of Birch positions and 
signatures for Birch petitions in all groups that Birch members be- 
long to (e.g., veterans and business organizations); letters and tele- 
phone calls to local public officials, leading citizens, and newspapers 

The John Birch Society 1962 209 

who support what the Society opposes or oppose the Society di- 
rectly; monthly telephone calls to the local public library to make 
sure it has copies of the five right-wing books recommended by 
Welch every month. 

The national campaigns are carefully pinpointed efforts. They 
range from letter and postcard writing to national advertising 
campaigns. In the past two years, Birchers have been told to write 
the National Boy Scouts director and demand to know why the 
president of the National Council of Churches addressed their Na- 
tional Jamboree; insist personally and in writing each time a mem- 
ber flies American, United, or Eastern Airlines that they stock Hu- 
man Events and the National Review on their planes; protest to the 
N.B.C. network and the Purex Corporation for sponsoring a TV 
drama favorable to Sacco and Vanzetti; circulate petitions and write 
letters to Congress to impeach Chief Justice Warren and thereby 
"give the Communists a setback." 

Welch also sends out the copy for punchy postcards to be ad- 
dressed to national political leaders. To cite instances in 1960 alone: 
to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., at the ILK, "Two ques- 
tions, Mr. Lodge Who Murdered Bang-Jensen? And Which Side 
Are You On?"; to Secretary of State Christian Herter, "Castro is a 
Communist. Trujillo is an anti-Communist. Whose Side Are You 
On?"; and to President Eisenhower, on the eve of the scheduled 
summit conference, "Dear President Eisenhower If you go, don't 
come back." 

The last postcard stirred some protests from Society members, 
who felt that Welch's savage little message to the President was a 
bit too strong. Welch set them straight in the Bulletin: "It is one of 
our many sorrows that, in fighting the evil forces which now 
threaten our civilization, for us to be too civilized is unquestionably 
to be defeated." The Communists, he continued, want us to be "too 
gentle, too respectable . . . [but] this is not a cream-puff war . . . 
and we do mean business every step of the way." Welch admitted 
that the technique of planted and loaded questions and the disrup- 
tion of meetings was a "dirty trick," but he still defended it as 
another vital tactic. 

To stimulate compliance by members with the local and national 
efforts prescribed each month in the Bulletin, Welch has devised 
the MMM system, or "Member's Monthly Memos." These forms 
are filled out by the member detailing what he or she has done 

210 The Radical Right 

and including sundry observations on the "Americanist fight** They 
are then collected by the chapter leader and transmitted to Belmont 
Welch and his staff, according to the Bulletin, spend much time 
going over the MMMs. 

In its first years, the Birch Society was successful in attracting to it 
some highly substantial figures in local communities physicians, 
stockbrokers, retired military officers, lawyers, businessmen (partic- 
ularly small and middle-sized manufacturers in the Midwest and 
the South), 1 and professionals, many of whom have become local 
chapter leaders and state co-ordinators. The Council of the Society 
is a veritable board of directors of right-fundamentalism: men like 
Colonel Lawrence Bunker, Cola G. Parker, T. Coleman Andrews, 
Clarence Manion, and Spruille Braden. Among the contributing edi- 
tors and editorial advisory committee for American Opinion have 
been J. B. Matthews, William S. Schlamm, Kenneth Colegrove, 
J. Bracken Lee, Ludwig von Mises, Adolphe Menjou, J. Howard 
Pew, and Albert C. Wedemeyer. In several communities, observers 
of the Society have noted a significant number of thirty-to-forty- 
year-olds joining the organization. Welch has stated that half of the 
Society's membership is Catholic, 2 that there are some Jewish mem- 
bers, and that there are Negroes also two segregated locals in 
the South and integrated chapters in the North. 

Press reports suggest that most of the Society's members already 
had strong affiliations with other right-wing groups before the Birch 
Society was formed. What Welch hoped to do was to build a one- 
million-member organization by welding together the masses of right- 
fundamentalist joiners into the fighting educational and pressure arm 
of the John Birch Society. In the Bulletin and American Opinion, 
Welch continually offers flattering salutes to various right-wing 
groups, publications, and personalities, stressing that "Americanists" 
can work in several forums at once for the cause. In May, 1961, 
for example, Welch listed two pages of "other anti-Communist 
groups" that he endorsed and urged Birchers to support. These in- 
cluded the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, the American 
Council of Christian Laymen, the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, 
the Catholic Freedom Foundation, the Christian Crusade, the Free- 
dom Club (of Los Angeles), Freedom in Action (Houston), the 
Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, the Network of Patriotic 
Letter Writers (Pasadena), and We, The People! (Chicago). In 
turn, Welch's appearances are often sponsored by such groups: the 

The John Birch Society 1962 211 

Freedom Club of Reverend James Fifield arranged Ms Los Angeles 
rally, and the Sons of the American Revolution sponsored Ms Hous- 
ton appearance. 

To a large extent, Welch's personal selflessness and his sales- 
mansMp made him a rallying point for the fundamentalist right, and 
no recent right-wing group comes to mind that has acMeved so large 
and solid a dues-paying and working membership. In a world of Com- 
munist advances in Asia and Africa, pressures on Berlin, vast changes 
in the relation of wMte to colored populations throughout the world, 
the Birch Society has developed a thoroughly satisfying way for the 
thin-lipped little lady from Wichita or the self-made manufacturer of 
plumbing fixtures in North Carolina to work in manageable little 
daily doses against "the Communists." The cancer of the unquestioned 
international Communist menace and the surgery of local pressure on 
the P.-T.A. and the public library here is a perfect appeal for right 
fundamentalism. TMs Mghlights the fact that the Society's most suc- 
cessful efforts to date have not been on the national scene but on the 
"soft underbelly" of American democracy those places where a 
minimum of pressure can often produce maximum terror and restric- 
tive responses. Welch has stressed that school boards, city colleges, 
local businesses, local clergy, and similar targets are the ones to con- 
centrate on. Above all, Welch has brought co-ordination to the 
fundamentalist right co-ordinated targets, co-ordinated meetings^ 
and rallies, and co-ordinated pressure tactics. "All of a sudden," the 
director of a Jewish Community Council in one city reflected, "the 
right-wingers began to function like a disciplined platoon. We have 
had to contend with precision and saturation ever since." 


If. this is what the Society advocates and how it functions, what 
are its prospects? The Society has already lost one of its most potent 
weapons the element of secrecy. Those in local communities who 
felt the sting of Birch campaigns during 1959-61 report that it was 
the factor of surprise at these sudden fundamentalist pressures and 
the unawareness of their organizational source that threw them off 
balance. Now, however, the Society has been brought into public view. 
Its authoritarian character and extremist statements have been at- 
tacked in both liberal and conservative newspapers; by important 
Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders; and by political figures as 

212 The Radical Right 

diverse as Richard Nixon, President Kennedy, Attorney General 
Robert Kennedy, Representative Sam Rayburn, Senator Thomas E. 
Dodd, and even Senator Barry Goldwater himself. The fact that a 
prominent leader of the Society who had been chosen as Washington 
lobbyist for the American Retail Federation was hastily discarded 
by the Federation because of his Birch affiliation indicates that pub- 
licity has damaged the Society's claim to respectability. One Mid- 
western Congressman known for his open advocacy of right-wing 
movements felt it wise recently to seek out liberal leaders from his 
community and explain privately that he did not support the Birch 
movement. Increasingly, those "solid" figures who joined the group 
when it was operating privately have had to face public disapproval 
of the Society, and this probably has caused some falling away among 
borderline conservatives. 

In the longer perspective, there are three specific factors that de- 
serve mention in assessing the Society's future. The first is the au- 
thoritarian character of the group and the centralized control exercised 
by Robert Welch (a situation that has led Senator Goldwater to 
criticize Welch directly). According to the charter of the Society, 
Welch is the absolute leader; there is no accounting of dues or con- 
tributions; there is no representative process or democratic system for 
selecting programs or defining positions; and Welch has the power 
(which he has used) to expel any member or chapter for reasons 
sufficient to him, without right of hearing or appeal on the expulsion. 
This has produced widespread criticism of Welch as a "little Hitler" 
and the Society as a group run on Fascist lines. However, Welch has 
stressed again and again that members can disagree with him; that he 
doesn't expect any member to carry out a project which violates Ms 
conscience; and that the Society definitely opposes an "enforced con- 
formity" within its ranks. The controls, Welch explains, are needed 
to prevent Communist infiltration of the Society (which he believes 
has already begun or will certainly begin as the Society becomes more 
effective) and infiltration by hate-mongers. This blend of leader- 
principle and group self-protection has great appeal to right- 
fundamentalists and even to some right-wing conservatives. The 
authoritarian setup makes fine ammunition for liberal and main- 
stream-conservative fire, but this is not likely to harm Welch a bit 
in his recruiting among fundamentalists. 

A jsecpnd .factor is, Welch, himself t The fantastic allegations he 
has made in The Politician even though the book has not been 

The John Birch Society 1962 213 

endorsed by the Council and is, indeed, repudiated by some mem- 
bers have branded Mm as an unbalanced figure and convinced 
many staunch conservatives that Welch is a truly dangerous leader. 
The conservative Los Angeles Times did a thorough expose of the 
Society and ran a stinging editorial that read Welch out of the 
conservative camp. Out of self-defense, Republicans in California 
joined in with the Times (especially in condemning Welch's attacks 
on Eisenhower), for the Birchers were proving so effective in pull- 
ing the Republican Party to the far right that some counterattack 
was felt to be essential. Welch himself has been highly equivocal 
about The Politician. He insists that it was a "private" letter and 
never published, though he does not deny its authenticity. In the 
May, 1961, issue of the Bulletin, he alludes to "questions or criti- 
cism from some of our most loyal members" relating to The Poli- 
tician. To these, he replies that "the considerations involved in con- 
nection with many such matters are varied, over-lapping, involved, 
and with too many ramifications to be explained in short compass. 
There are even times when, for reasons of strategy, we take an 
oblique approach to a specific objective, and fully to explain every 
step of our course would seriously handicap our effectiveness." Hav- 
ing decided not to say anything at all, Welch assured members that 
if he "could give ... the whole background of events," then ob- 
jections might turn into approval, and with this he dropped the sub- 
ject of Ms magnum opus. 

As Welch led his cadres on during 1962, he forced even those 
who applauded the Birch Society to speak out against Welch per- 
sonally. The arch-conservative Manchester (NJEL) Union-Leader, 
published by William Loeb, called on Welch to resign in February 
of 1962, citing Welch's praise for Batista and Trujillo as examples 
of his "nonsense." Russell Kirk, Congressman Walter Judd, Senator 
Thomas Dodd, and even Fulton Lewis, Jr., joined in suggestions 
that Welch's statements were wild, his presence a burden for "the 
cause," and his retirement highly desirable. The fullest attack came 
from the National Review on February 13, 1962, in a documented 
complaint that Welch "persists in distorting reality and in refusing 
to make the crucial moral and political distinction . . . between 
1) an active pro-Communist, and 2) an ineffectually anti-Com- 
munist Liberal" After discussing The Politician, the National Re- 
view editorial added such examples of recent Welchery as these: 
"The Cuban invasion was a plot by Fidel Castro and his friends 

214 The Radical Right 

in the U. S. Government. The invasion was planned by Castro and 
Ms friends in our government to make Castro stronger throughout 
Latin America [and to] reduce U.S. prestige"; the United States 
is now "50-70+%" under "Communist-control"; "the government 
of the United States is under operational control of the Communist 
Party." The National Review also cited Welch's claims that the 
Tito break with Stalin was "completely stage-managed and phoney"; 
that Nasser was as much a Kremlin agent "as . . . Mao Tse Tung"; 
that the Soviets "deliberately precipitated" the Polish and Hungar- 
ian revolts of 1956; that the CJ.A. "is on the [Communist] side"; 
NATO is a Communist "hoax"; Willy Brandt is a "hypocritical Com- 
symp"; and on, and on. The editorial concluded by noting that the 
John Birch Society could be a superb organization, and "might have 
had many millions" of members, but for Welch's misleadership. 
Now, he should resign. 

Not every Birch Society supporter joined this bandwagon of criti- 
cism, however. Congressman John Rousselot (Rep., Calif.), a Birch 
Society member and frank advocate, issued a statement on Febru- 
ary 15, 1962, urging Welch's retention. "Robert Welch is an intense 
foe of Communism and the fact that he is the anti-Communist most 
often attacked in Pravda as well as other Communist publications 
throughout the United States and the rest of the world, attests to the 
validity of Ms thesis." Representative Rousselot added, "It seems 
unrealistic to me to ask any segment of our conservative, anti-Com- 
munist movement to be removed from the battle line at the time 
when we are beginning to win and just because we do not agree 
with every item." 

As of the spring of 1962, Welch had not resigned. He is subject 
to no election or governing board, and it is arguable whether he or 
his critics best express the ideas of the Society's membership. In 
any event, Ms talents as organizer, salesman, and unifier of funda- 
mentalist ranks made the Birch Society, and he has shown no in- 
tention of surrendering Ms apparatus. 

A third factor relating to the Birch Society's immediate prospects 
is the question of anti-Semitism. Repeated charges have been made 
that the Society is a genteel endorser of such anti-Semitic publi- 
cations as Russell Maguire's American Mercury and Merwin K. 
Hart's Economic Council Newsletter. Hart who often talks about 
a conspiracy of "Zionists and their confederates" controlling 
America and whose organization was described by a Congressional 

The John Birch Society 1962 215 

committee investigating lobbying as one that relies on "an ill-con- 
cealed anti-Semitism" is presently leader of the Birch Society's 
Manhattan Chapter No. 26. In addition, such openly anti-Semitic 
spokesmen as Conde McGinley have rushed to endorse the Birch 
Society. In the March 15, 1961, issue of Common Sense, McGinley 
wrote 5 "Inasmuch as we have received many inquiries from all over 
the United States regarding the John Birch Society, we want to go 
on record. We believe this to be an effective, patriotic group, in 
good hands." 

On the other hand, Welch has always appealed to all religions, 
has urged Jews to join the Society, and has warned that it is a 
"Communist tactic to stir up distrust and hatred between Jews and 
Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, Negroes and Whites." Much of 
the April, 1961, issue of his Bulletin is devoted to a discussion of 
the allegation that the Society is anti-Semitic, and what Welch has 
to say there is well worth close examination. 

He opens by noting that "the most vicious" charges leveled against 
him have come from "such notorious anti-Semites as Lyri Clark 
Van Hyning (Women's Voice) and Elizabeth Billing (the Dilling 
Bulletin) on the grounds that my various committees and supporters 
are nothing but a 'bunch of Jews and Jew-kissers.' . . ." He then 
cites the names of Jewish members of the Society such as Willi 
Schlamm, Julius Epstein, Morrie Ryskind, the late Alfred Kohlberg, 
and Rabbi Max Merritt, and indicates that it has been endorsed by 
the American Jewish League Against Communism (a Jewish right- 
fundamentalist group). Next, Welch explains that he probably has 
"more good Mends of the Jewish faith than any other Gentile in 
America." When he was in the candy-manufacturing business in 
Massachusetts, he recalls, he had many Jewish customers; he drank 
coffee in their kitchens at midnight, borrowed money from them and 
lent them money in return, and engaged in every kind of business 
and social activity with Jews. 

Turning to some specific accusations, Welch admits that he used 
a pamphlet by Joseph Kamp as a source for Ms book May God 
Forgive Us, and also paid Kamp a hundred dollars to go through 
The Life of John Birch to find errors. This was in 1954. But later, 
he says, he became "aware of both the fact and the weapon of 
anti-Semitism in America, and I wanted no part of the whole 
argument" He had nothing further to do with Kamp after the 1954 

216 The Radical Right 

contact, but he adds that he still simply doesn't know enough to say 
whether Kamp is really anti-Semitic. 

Welch goes on to relate that a person who had been trying to 
convert one local chapter into "a hotbed of anti-Semitism" was 
dropped from the Society, and he pledges that the Society will never 
become a haven for anti-Semitic feeling "so long as I am directing 
its policies." After several additional paragraphs explaining why no 
member of the Jewish faith can also be a Communist (and point- 
ing out that Karl Marx was "probably the most vicious anti-Semite 
of all times"), Welch concludes with the following warning: 

There is only one real danger in the charge of anti-Semitism today, 
to the man who actually is not anti-Semitic. It is that the utter (and in 
some cases malicious) unfairness of the charge may cause him to react 
with anger against Jews in general, and then begin to let some of his 
feeling creep into his writings or his speeches. That brings on even more 
vitriolic attacks, with a few more straws to support them. And so the 
development continues until the man in question winds up actually 
becoming violently anti-Semitic. And he seldom realizes that this was 
the Communist game and purpose all along, of which the majority of 
Jews who innocently helped the Reds to implement it were as unaware 
and innocent as the ordinary Methodist who supports the National 
Council of Churches. And many an anti-Communist fighter of great 
promise in America has had his career ruined and his effectiveness 
destroyed by letting himself fall into that carefully prepared trap. 

This will never happen to him, Welch declares; to his "thousands 
of Jewish friends" he pledges, "I shall remain your friend, no mat- 
ter what happens. . . ." 3 Furthermore, despite clear atmospheres 
of anti-Semitism at some of his public meetings and anti-Semitic 
questions from the floor, Welch has refused to give his estimate of 
how many American rabbis are Comsymps, though he has given 
definite figures for the Protestant and Catholic clergy. 

All the evidence available at the moment suggests the presence 
of a certain ambivalence in the Birch Society on the matter of anti- 
Semitism. Welch himself seems to be personally without bias toward 
Jews, and he wants the Society to reflect this position. Yet there is 
no doubt that some local leaders and members are well-known anti- 
Semites. With one after another of the rabbinical associations and 
major Jewish civic groups speaking out in complete condemnation 
of Welch and his movement, there will be rising pressures to re- 

The John Birch Society 1962 217 

spond to the "Jewish attacks/' Probably, Welch will continue to al- 
low some light flirtation with the more sophisticated anti-Semitic 
spokesmen. But it is a testimony to American maturity and the 
activities of Jewish defense agencies that open anti-Semitism is seen 
as a dead end today for any "middle-of-the-road right-wing organi- 

One final aspect of the Society should be noted. Welch's writings' 
have a remarkable combination of fantastic allegation and sweet 
reasonableness. Along with his proposals advocating drastic action^ 
against the Communist agents all over America will go reminders 
to be polite while making menacing telephone calls to local officials, 
to exercise self-restraint when attacked unfairly, and to take no ac- 
tion that violates "moral Principles." "It is a major purpose of the 
John Birch Society," he often explains, one "never to be overlooked 
by its members, to help in every way we can by example as well 
as precept to restore an abiding sense of moral values to greater 
use as a guide of conduct for individuals, for groups, and ultimately 
for nations." If there are some right-fundamentalists to whom this 
sort of passage sounds a bit like the National Council of Churches, 
the total blend of warmhearted, main-street vigilantism is still ap- 
pealing to the majority of Welch's followers. 


Whatever the specific prospects for the Birch Society, the 1960s 
will surely be years of expansion for the fundamentalist right in 
this country. Several things point toward this conclusion. 

First, this will be a decade of immense frustration for American 
foreign policy. We will witness increased neutralism among the new 
nations; increased militancy among the non-white peoples over ques- 
tions of color; constant military and scientific pressures from the 
Russians and, soon, the Chinese Communists; diminished American 
influence in the United Nations; greater conflict in Latin America; 
and continued outlays of foreign assistance that do not "buy loyal- 
ties" or "deliver votes" on critical issues. If the United States can 
simply prevent these situations from exploding, most informed stu- 
dents of diplomacy would think we had done well. But cutting losses 
inflicted by the stagnant 1950s and preparing hopeful future po- 
sitions is not going to appeal to the right-fundamentalist masses (or 
to the frantic pacifist variety on the left, either). The right is un- 

218 The Radical Right 

shakable in its faith in unilateral solutions and its belief that each 
loss for America can be traced to a Communist agent or "Com- 
symp" in the C.I.A., on the New York Times, in the Cathedral 
of St. John the Divine, or at the Yale Law School And the in- 
escapable strategic retreats of the early 1960s (Laos is a good ex- 
ample) will lend fuel to the fires on the right. 

Second, the domestic racial issue also poses a serious threat of a 
rise in right-fundamentalism. In the 1960s, the struggle for Negro 
equality will move increasingly into areas outside the South. Lower- 
middle-class and middle-class resentments against Negro neighbors 
and Negro competitors are bound to increase. The crescendo of 
Negro militancy and the spreading use of government power to en- 
force civil rights will peel away the already thinned layers of toler- 
ation in many sectors of the Northern and Western population. In 
this area of public policy, groups like the Birch Society which are 
not explicitly anti-Negro but oppose compulsory integration have 
a promising position, and the reservoirs of white hostility, unless 
carefully and wisely channeled by both white and Negro liberal 
leaders, could fill the well of the fundamentalist right to overflow- 

Third, there exists the distinct possibility of an unprecedented 
coalition of Catholic and Protestant right-fundamentalists in the 
1960s. Only those who know little about the history of American 
Catholicism think this is a monolithic community. Yet many factors 
suggest that the 1960s may see an even deeper division of Ameri- 
can Catholics into warring ideological factions than has obtained at 
any time in the past. Already some influential Catholics are com- 
plaining bitterly that President Kennedy has joined the "Liberalist 
Establishment," that he has been "selling out" Catholic Church in- 
terests, and that the administration of the first Catholic President 
may go down in history as the "softest on Communism." This is 
far from the dominant view among American Catholics. Indeed, it 
may represent the last thrashing of the old, super-loyalist element 
in the American Catholic community a group that will be goaded 
to extremism by the sight of an a-clerical, literate, sophisticated 
Catholic liberal in the White House. Under these conditions, and 
with the magic memory of Joseph McCarthy to help bridge the 
chasm of the Reformation, the fundamentalist Protestants and the 
fundamentalist Catholics may enter into alliance (possibly inside 
the Birch Society). 


England and America: Climates of 
Tolerance and Intolerance 1962* 


DURING THE 1950s, a climate of political intolerance ex- 
isted in the United States. While working on various surveys of 
this climate, I began to feel that our understanding of this phenome- 
non would be greatly enlarged by an examination of the English 
scene. Both countries are in that same broad temperate zone of the 
world where the balance of nature, forces of history, political geog- 
raphy, and law should have affected us equally. Yet England ap- 
peared to be a region that continued to be favored by a climate of 
political tolerance in sharp contrast to the unfavorable changes 
America had become exposed to. A comparative study to determine 
whether there was, in fact, a difference, and what the factors account- 
ing for it might be, was planned, and the exploratory phases of it 
were conducted by field studies undertaken in 1961. 

Some clarification of the concept involved in "a climate of political 
intolerance" is a necessary prelude. Our ultimate concern is with 
the widespread intolerance manifested in actions against political 
nonconformists. The overt intolerance may be regarded as a re- 
flection of a clw%grio^ opinion a pervasive pattern of beliefs and 
attitudes in a society about political nonconformity. This, in turn, 
may be seen as embedded in a more fundamental system of belief 

*The support of the Guggenheim Foundation and the Social Science Re- 
search Council is gratefully acknowledged. The research assistance of Miss 
Harriet Zuckerman in the United States and the co-operation of Dr. Mark 
Abrams in England are also acknowledged with thanks. 

228 The Radical Right 

and attitude involving genej^dizedjntolerance toward political groups, 
ethnic groups, and other groups within the country or outside its 
boundaries. To assume that these three phenomena are the same, 
;>r naturally flow and blend into one another, is to obscure the 
important questions of the processes by which they become linked. 
Thus, it is equally possible that generalized intolerance can become 
focused on or diverted from a particular object, and, once focused, 
can be translated or not into various forms of action against that 
object. Some of the differences in England might derive from fun- 
damental differences in climates of opinion or might instead derive 
from factors that altered the focus of such opinions, or their trans- 
lation into action. 

A climate of political intolerance is a problem of deep concern, 
for it may generate in society an atmosphere of fear and distrust. 
Dissenters of all varieties not only Communists may become 
afraid to engage in innocent forms of behavior, expressions of atti- 
tude, or perhaps even to hold "dangerous" opinions. Such feelings 
may also be subsummed under the concept of a climate of opinion, 
but here again a correspondence between a climate of political 
intolerance and an atmosphere of fear should not be assumed. 
Whether such fears become pervasive or remain restricted to partic- 
ular groups and the way they manifest themselves may depend 
on many factors, some that sustain possible victims of intolerance, 
and others that contain the intolerance itself. The measurement of 
the English atmosphere and the exploration of such factors formed 
the second purpose of the comparative study. 


A brief review of some studies of America in the 1950s is 
necessary for comparison. The American conclusions can pose ques- 
tions to be checked against the English experience. And by seeing 
what questions the American studies left unanswered, the crucial 
role of comparative studies in regions of tolerance and intolerance 
can be conveyed. 

The many scholarly analyses of the American security programs 
have pointed out inadequacies in the criteria and legal procedures 
employed, and have documented the cases of injury and injustice 
to individuals in government and teaching. 1 To demonstrate the 

England and America 1962 229 

climate of opinion in the general public and the extent of fear, 
one must turn, however, to various surveys. 

In a national survey in 1954, Samuel Stouffer demonstrated that 
the level of public intolerance, not only toward Communists but 
toward milder kinds of political nonconformists, was strikingly high. 2 
But the widespread intolerance was not matched by any widespread 
fear among the people about expressing views in their everyday 
life. One must recall that the public merely reported their intolerant* 
opinions and did not always act them out, and this implies that 
a climate of intolerance requires stimulation and mobilization in 
order to work its social effects. 

On this score, Stouffer's parallel inquiry among local community 
leaders, mainly those in legitimate positions of authority, had re- 
vealed that these persons, when asked to venture opinions in their 
roles as private individuals, were more tolerant than the public, 
although not as tolerant as one might hope. Thus, legitimate local 
leadership, which might mobilize popular sentiments, was not as 
rampant as the public, and acted as a partial check on possibly 
unbridled actions. Other psychological findings of Stouffer's study^ 
help resolve the paradox. The normal apathy of the public provided 
some restraint on violent action against possible victims and also 
made the public less responsive to appeals to intolerance from national 
figures. The Army-McCarthy hearings, via one mass medium or, 
another, had reached an estimated audience of some eighty-five 
million adults. Yet Stouffer found that thirty per cent of the 
national sample could not name any of the senators who had been 
investigating Communism, not even McCarthy. Such is one of the 
blessed social functions of ignorance! 

Stouffer's prime finding, the high degree of widespread intoler-*" 
ance, leads one to develop certain models of the way intolerance 
must be distributed within a population for it to generate maximum 
fear. The many who are intolerant do not fear the climate of opinion , 
they themselves create; they are the agents of intolerance, not the 
victims. The more their numbers increase, the fewer are left over| 
who hold the kind of opinions that would be a cause for fear 
although as the minority weighs the odds, the fears might become! 
more intense. Various models to represent such social processes^ 
might be elaborated along ecological lines, since the assumption 
that the national population is the meaningful social entity may be 
unwarranted. However, if one refines the model, it tends to become 

230 The Radical Right 

clear that preponderant intolerance in a society does not create the 
widest repercussions of fear. 

"" But while the general public did not exhibit what Stoufier termed 
a "national anxiety neurosis," studies of specialized population 
groups did document an atmosphere of fear in response to the 
felt climate of intolerance. Marjorie Fiske's study of librarians in 

'California showed that the librarians engaged in many self-imposed 
restrictive practices so as to avoid sanctions. 3 Lazarsfeld and 
Thielens in 1955 surveyed a large sample of social scientists in 
colleges throughout the country and documented the incidents of 
social pressure against political nonconformity that in turn had led 
to considerable apprehension and cautionary activity on the part 
of teachers. 4 In 1954 Marie Jahoda studied a small sample of 
personnel then currently employed in the broadcasting industry and 
showed that the climate of intolerance, as channeled through the 
institution of the blacklist, had created a preponderant pattern 
of fear among such individuals, so that they had restricted their 
opinions, activities, and associations. 5 A similar pattern of findings 
was evident IB an earlier study by Jahoda and Cook, conducted in 
1951, among a small sample of Washington civil servants; they 
demonstrated that the loyalty-and-security issue had become of such 
pervasive concern to these individuals that in response to the total 
climate of formal government procedures and informal pressures, 
\hese individuals showed much fear and cautionary activity. 6 These 
and other specialized studies provide substantial evidence that, while 
ithe masses were not made afraid by the climate of intolerance, 
particular strategic groups who had been objects of attack were 
definitely prone to fear. 7 

All of these studies exploited their resources to the full, but were 
limited empirically to certain forms of analysis. By comparing groups 
within the sample, the analysts indicated the factors accounting for 
differences in intolerance and sensitivity to fear on the part of an 
individual or psychological nature. They were also able to account 
for the differences in the situations the milieu or community 
setting, and still larger factors of a sub-societal or sub-cultural nature 
which shaped the responses. But these many diverse analyses, 
based as they were on an inquiry at a particular time or place 
within the one society, did not provide any empirical test of macro- 
scopic factors, such as the cultural and historical, economic, polit- 

England and America 1962 231 

ical, and administrative, wHch might account for the over-all findings 
about the American climate of opinion. 

A comparative national study can provide some test of such fac- 
tors. And the comparison with England commends itself as an almost 
model experiment. The external threat of the Soviet Union and the 
cold war had affected both countries. The dangers of internal sub- 
version existed in both countries and led to official programs of 
security promulgated at about the same time in 1948-49. If 
anything, England labored under handicaps that should have aggra- 
vated the security problem. England was weaker militarily and eco- 
nomically, and in terms of proximity was in even greater danger 
from the Soviet Union. Various English trade unions were threat- 
ened by Communist domination, including some strategic unions of 
civil servants. 8 England had had its own notorious cases of espio- 
nage to stimulate official and public concern with problems of secu- 
rity and loyalty. Yet this very same complex of objective events led 
in the United States to McCarthyism, but in England, despite even 
more compelling conditions, it did not. Obviously, there is much 
more to it than these objective circumstances. 


It may hardly appear to be a discovery that there are more 
subtle factors involved. Obviously, an objective threat to a society" 
can be perceived in .many different ways and need not always 
lead to the same demands that political dissent within the society 
be restricted. The findings from comparable surveys conducted in 
1953 among samples of teachers in seven western European countries" 
showed that the relation between "threat orientation" and tolerance 
of internal dissent varied among the countries, and that each of these 
variables was itself complex and could have a different psychological 
structure from country to country. 9 Yet the value of a simple 
conclusion about objective threat should not be discounted. It has 
the practical virtue of showing that a tradition of civil liberties can 
survive such obstacles. From the point of view of social research, 
there would be no way of establishing the exact contribution of 
threatening events without recourse to some type of comparative 
design, and their importance has been strongly argued in past anal- 
yses of the American climate. For example, it has been suggested 
that Alger Hiss was "a heaven-sent gift. If he did not exist, the 

232 The Radical Right 

pseudo-conservatives would have not been able to invent Mm. 9 ' 10 
How plausible it sounds to claim that such a case aggravated public 
irrationality and intolerance. But if America had an Alger Hiss, 
the English had their Fuchs, their Pontecorvo, their Burgess and 
McLean, and still others, and still the consequences in intolerance 
did not ensue. These cases are not sufficient causes, although they 
may be necessary ones. 

If we must turn to other factors besides the objective threat 
to account for the difference in the extent of intolerance, the com- 
parative study of the two countries narrows down our search con- 
siderably, for many other factors are also equated in what seems 
a fortunate natural experimental design. A history of legal guarantees 
of civil liberties is common to both countries; if anything, some of 
the protections that are most relevant are stronger in America. 
The American Civil Service, a focus for McCarthyism, has greater 
legal rights to employment. The English civil servant has no statutory 
protection and Ms employment is not within the jurisdiction of the 
courts. He serves by the prerogative of the Crown or the government. 
In the parliamentary discussions of the English security program in 
1948, many issues were reviewed and debated, but on the point of 
the government's right to terminate the employment of a civil 
servant there was no argument. 11 Law aside, the traditional norms 
and values that are taught as guides to conduct are much the same 
in both countries justice, liberty, fair play, freedom of expression 
and belief and if norms, not law, governed the phenomenon, the 
outcomes should have been the same. 

It may be argued that what is written on the books counts less 
than what gets written on the mind. Perhaps the Americans do 
not really hold to the values. The values that are internalized are 
certainly relevant to the problem, and afford one illustration of a 
host of socio-psychological formulations that have been advanced to 
account for the American climate of intolerance. Whether they are, 
in fact, valid descriptions of American character is one issue, and 
this can be established from the comprehensive surveys that have 
been conducted in America. But the more important issue is the 
explanatory power of such formulations. Equivalent comparative 
data on the values of Englishmen would tell us whether such national 
value systems are crucial to the climates that emerged, for it might 
be the case that the values are widely honored, in the breach or 

England and America 1962 233 

the observance, in both places, and are not enough to account for 
the different outcomes. 

Whatever direction these socio-psychological formulations take, 
they should be tested twice, once for their validity as descriptions 
of American character, and again for their validity as explanations 
of the climate of political intolerance. The comparative study serves 
the second test. 

Many American surveys have shown that the public espoused* 
general democratic values in the abstract, but did not apply them to 
particular concrete cases where they might be expected to apply. 
Values have to be engaged, have to be seen as relevant to particular 
situations, before a public uses them as guides to conduct. 12 Perhaps, 
the English and American publics differ in the degree to which their 
common value system has been seen as relevant to the treatment 
of political nonconformity. Comparative description of values must 
be accompanied by research into the cognitive processes of value- 

England provides an ideal testing ground for other socio-psycho- 
logical constructs that have figured in discussions of the American 
climate of intolerance. For example, consider Alan Earth's recent 
characterization of the 1960-style McCarthyites as the "rampageous 
right": they see things simplistically; they do not make distinctions; 
the tensions and frustrations under which we live make them angry 
and less prone to reason. 13 There is nothing wrong with the descrip- 
tion. But how adequate is it to explain the prominence of these 
groups in America? The English live in a similar world of tensions. 
They too are likely to draw oversimple cognitive maps to guide 
them toward a better world. Yet the English conservative does 
not go on a rampage against political nonconformists. , 

What remains problematical is why the oversimplifications of 
thought have taken on a particular content in America. Why do 
the political nonconformist and the Communist in our midst figure 
so prominently in the American cognitive map? Why is the boundary 
line between the two so fuzzy on the American map? Doctrinal 
distinctions are not simple, but the wild assortment of criteria for 
identifying a Communist that Stouffer compiled from the responses 
of his sample seem hardly to represent the limits of ordinary Ameri- 
can intelligence. 14 Comparative study might reveal some of the factors 
that have encouraged oversimplification in thought and have shaped 
its content. 

234 The Radical Right 

Or consider the influential body of theory organized around the 
concepts of "status politics" and "status anxiety" which were central 
to the original edition of this volume in which McCarthyism was 
seen as the accompaniment of social mobility, of the displacement 
of some groups by others rising in the social order. 15 The upward 
mobile in their status-anxiety become conservative and conforming, 
and become intolerant because they must display their conformity 
by demanding it from others. By other psychodynamic routes, the 
downward mobile, the status-deprived, also arrive at intolerance. 
Certainly, the social location of McCarthy's support in America, 
and similar kinds of structural analyses of survey data, might give 
inferential support to such theories. But there are some stubborn 
facts about England that are hard to reconcile with the theory. 
The English postwar social order was mangled as much if not more 
than ours. They have their nouveaux riches, their "Texas million- 
aires," who should have felt a need to validate themselves by 
excessive loyalty and zeal about others' loyalty. Contrary to usual 
belief, social mobility in Britain, both upward and downward, has 
been substantial and not very different in magnitude from mobility 
in the United States. 16 


The contemplation of the comparative study provides a corrective 
for theories that employ some form of psychological analysis of the 
American past. The investigator finds the forerunners of the new 
intolerance of political nonconformists in such passages in our history 
as the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Know-Nothing Movement, 
the raids on Reds after World War I, the Ku Klux Klan, the 
rough and tough of the frontier, or some other gory item out of 
the American past from which one postulates a persistent streak 
of intolerance in American character. Comparison with England 
reveals the incompleteness of the argument. The scene there is one 
of lawfulness and restraint punctuated, only on occasion, by some 
brutal racial intolerance. 17 But the English past was full of excess, 
punitive laws, lawlessness, and the victimization of types of noncon- 
formists. We had our past oaths for teachers, but they had their 
acts of uniformity against teachers. At Oxford, religious tests were 
not completely abolished until 187L We had our anti-Semitism, 
but the legal disabilities placed on Jews in England persisted well into 

England and America 1962 235 

the latter half of the nineteenth century, and were not completely 
removed until about 1890. Paralleling our Alien and Sedition Acts 
at about the same time and in similar response to the French 
Revolution, they had their Sedition trials. 18 They had their violence. 
A widely traveled anthropologist and student of the English character, 
Geoffrey Gorer, puts the matter vividly. "No society in the world 
I know of had such persistently cruel and violent amusements and 
diversions as the people of Elizabethan England; the bull-baiting, 
the bear-baiting, the cock-fighting, the public executions and floggings, 
the teasing of the insane in Bedlam." By 1800, the scene is still 
lurid: "six women were publicly flogged for hedge-pulling till the 
blood ran down their backs, and the public flogging of women was 
only made illegal in 1817." 19 The English parallel suggests that 
there is something questionable in the logic of explanations that 
appeal to a historical streak of general intolerance to account for 
the recent climate of political intolerance. History is obviously a 
record of discontinuities and changes in social character as well as 
a record of continuities. Somebody or something can break or extend 
the historical thread. 

The blemishes on the English record, which we normally forget, 
suggest too that there may be something arbitrary in the sampling 
procedure used to support such theories about American intolerance. 
American History may be read as a record of periodic intolerance, 
violence, encroachment on civil liberties, but it is equally appropriate 
to draw opposite conclusions by judicious selection. In between the 
bad episodes, there were plenty of other things happening native 
radicalism that was tolerated, Utopian communities that survived 
unharmed, communistic communities founded by foreigners, reformers 
who were read and listened to, tracts on Socialism and even anarchism 
that were not burned or censored. 20 There are many strands to 
the American past. Perhaps one must look in England and America 
at the forces that bring out any particular inchoate aspect of national 

Another psychological construct that often figured in the discussion 
of McCarthyism was the theme of conformity in the American 
character. Political intolerance certainly exacts as its price a con- 
formity from its victims, but the argument appeals to a notion that 
there is a more fundamental and generalized conformity that shapes 
the political demands for conformity and makes the victims compliant. 
Certainly, there is plenty of evidence of individual differences in 

236 The Radical Right 

compliance with social pressures, and recently there has appeared 
some evidence of national differences in compliance under experi- 
mentally created social pressures. 21 That Americans as a people 
demand more conformity from others than English people do, and 
that these demands must of necessity focus on the political sphere 
still remains unexamined and unproven. The seven-country study of 
teachers showed that the English subjects were among the highest 
in their disapproval of dissent on military matters, which was hardly 
suggestive of mildness when it came to conformity demands on 
matters of high importance, 22 while some American data from the 
Detroit area studies had suggested that the politically intolerant were 
inclined to gentle forms of persuasion of nonconformists, rather than 
to harsh measures. 23 

What we take as typifying the lack of English pressures for con- 
formity, as some of my informants have suggested, is their tolerance 
of eccentricity, of the amateur engaged in odd hobbies; perhaps 
playing with politics is regarded as an innocent kind of nonconformity. 
The question whether a particular realm of behavior is defined as 
innocent or dangerous nonconformity is central to an understanding 
of the climate of intolerance in a society, and perhaps directs us to 
the definition of "dangerous" that is urged upon the ordinary man. 24 

In these many ways, the planning of a comparative study led me 
to reappraise the large body of speculations about McCarthyism. 
The hypotheses that withstood this reappraisal became the guide 
to my travels and observations. The research design ideally would 
have followed a particular sequence of stages. The general climate 
of opinion the pervasive pattern of values, beliefs and attitudes 
that characterized the British public should be described first on 
the basis of adequate survey data. If the British public differed in 
their dispositions toward intolerance, the psychological hypotheses 
that had been advanced to account for the American climate of 
political intolerance would have greater plausibility. If, however, the 
British public were equally disposed toward intolerance, then one 
should explore the political and structural factors that had held the 
intolerance in check. Was the British elite even more tolerant than 
Stouffer had found the stratum of American leadership to be? Had 
particular political institutions prevented the mobilization of intolerant 
sentiments? What influence did events and situations have in shaping 
the forms of intolerance? And if the British public were disposed 
toward intolerance, had an atmosphere of fear been generated, 

England and America 1962 237 

particularly among the kinds of groups that had been found to be 
vulnerable in the American studies? 

Some of these hypotheses about climates of political intolerance 
could have been tested by another type of research design. Long- 
term trend surveys conducted within one society, the United States, 
would also have provided a comparison of political intolerance under 
conditions of changing events and national situations. 25 

From trend questions on public intolerance asked by the National 
Opinion Research Center periodically over a decade, plus other 
survey data, Paul Sheatsley and I reported in 1953 considerable 
public intolerance long before the rise of McCarthy, but we also 
showed that this was correlative with events. With the cold war, public 
intolerance had grown and the relative tolerance of the more edu- 
cated strata had been undermined. 26 McCarthyism declined, but 
the cold war did not abate. Some questions, therefore, were in order. 
How long does it take for the fears of the nonconformists to be 
dissipated? Have the social scientists, the civil servants, broadcasters, 
and librarians remained as apprehensive as they were? Has the 
public remained as intolerant in the years between McCarthy and 
Robert Welch, and, if so, what forms has such intolerance taken? 

With these thoughts in mind, Sheatsley and I extended the trend 
line on two of the N.O.R.C. tolerance questions in surveys conducted 
m December, 1956, and April, 1957. At the height of McCarthyism, 
the earlier trend point had established in January, 1954, when 81 
per cent of the national sample declared they would not allow Com- 
munist Party members to speak on the radio, a steady rise from a 
figure of 40 per cent in 1943. Three years later, in December, 1956, 
the figure was 73 per cent, and in April, 1957, it was 75 per cent 
Similarly, we had reported in 1954 that 45 per cent would not allow 
Socialists to publish newspapers in peacetime, a rise from a figure of 
25 per cent in 1943. In December, 1956, 38 per cent still endorsed 
this policy and in April, 1957, the figure was 39 per cent 27 Such 
fragmentary data suggested that the sentiments of the American 
public continued to be intolerant, but simply had become latent in 
the absence of forces to activate, focus, or mobilize opinions. 

If fragmentary findings over a short span can be suggestive, it 
would be much more illuminating to have longer trends to juxtapose 
against radical changes in events and political institutions. Under 
different leadership conditions, would tie same pattern of sentiments 
have become mobilized into action? The fifties seem to have been a 

238 The Radical Right 

period when the actions of elected officials such as Senator McCarthy 
and some administrative officers in government, and the lack of action 
of other officials against intolerance, gave a new legitimacy to such 
behavior. In the sixties, by contrast, the legitimacy of such social 
movements and climates of opinion has been questioned by the 
strong actions of the President. 28 One wonders what difference 
this has made in the incidence, virulence, and forms of public in- 
tolerance and in the fears of nonconformists. 29 Alas, the interest 
of sponsors and of researchers has diminished, as the problem of 
intolerance appeared less problematical, and no one thus far has seen 
fit to repeat the studies of Stouffer or Lazarsfeld or Fiske. Applied 
social research seems oriented to the immediate issue rather than 
being problem-oriented. The latent aspects of an issue are neglected 
and trend designs for surveys have lost prestige. 

The first stage of my research strategy, as already indicated, was 
to find systematic survey data on the British climate of opinion. Occa- 
sional bits of such data that I had seen over the years had led me 
to doubt the image of a tolerant English public. If this were really 
so, I could then eliminate that variable as an explanation of the 
different climates of political tolerance, and concentrate on the other 
hypotheses. In England, huge volumes of data had been collected 
on all sorts of matters, but only a few questions had been asked on 
civil liberties and political nonconformity. To the question why, the 
survey people replied that they had no problem of McCarthyism, 
so why bother to study it? 30 

There was, however, enough survey data from a number of coun- 
tries, varying in the effective climates of political tolerance, to show 
that the sentiments of the common man everywhere are often intol- 
erant, thus suggesting that other factors explain the different outcome. 
For example, in Norway, a relatively tolerant country, a probability 
sample of the City of Oslo was studied in 1951-52, Thirty-two 
per cent felt Communists should not have the right to publish their 
own newspaper, even if it were carefully controlled by the authorities, 
and proportions ranging between 40-50 per cent felt Communists 
should be denied such positions as teachers, non-leading positions in 
states and municipalities, and trade-union offices. 31 Surveys done 
by the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion in 1950 showed that 

England and America 1962 239 

the magnitude of public intolerance of Communists was about the 
same as Stouffer demonstrated for the American public in 1954. 32 
The Australian Institute of Public Opinion had found in 1951 that 
about two-thirds of the public approved a ban on the Communist 
Party. Yet the ironical fact was that a national referendum had been 
held in September, 1951, on the issue of a ban and the ban had 
lost. One might have cast doubt on the validity of the surveys or 
argued for a last-minute shift in opinion. But in a survey conducted 
after the referendum, in December, 1951, the same finding was 
demonstrated. The finding was so startling that the survey was rep- 
licated once more and the exact same result obtained, 33 While 
one can explore other technical reasons for the difference between 
the vote and the popular opinion, what is suggested is that the 
relation between opinion and action is complicated by other variables, 
and an effective climate of opinion does not necessarily mirror popular 

Lacking exact survey data on the English public, I had to turn 
in other directions: to inquiry of informants, analysis of documents, 
and to an examination of concrete events. I attempted to find out 
what had actually happened to freedom of opinion, to political non- 
conformists, to Communists and so-caEed Communists in the 
schools, universities, civil service, and community. And it became 
abundantly clear to me as these bits of evidence accumulated that 
there had been many fewer overt actions against nonconformists. 
While this might be seen as a reflection of a climate of tolerant 
political opinion, the reverse may be argued. The lack of such ac- 
tions may well alter the climate, and it might still be asserted that 
the general English public initially held as intolerant sentiments as 
are found in other countries. And the lack of actions may easily 
account for the reduction in an atmosphere of fear. 

Consider the scope of official investigative activities in the United 
States in the mid-fifties. At that time, approximately six million 
American adults were covered by the civilian personnel-security 
programs of the federal government. These included about 2,300,000 
employees of the federal government, some three million employees 
in private industries engaged in defense work, plus other personnel 
who came under special federal legislation concerned with security 
problems in the Atomic Energy Commission, the United Nations, 
and in maritime trades. The military personnel-security program 
covered an additional three million^ for a total of nine million adults 

240 The Radical Right 

subject to investigation in 1955. 34 But even these figures seriously 
understate the extent to which official governmental scrutiny of 
security and loyalty touched the American people, for given the 
normal turnover of employment, subsequent occupants of the same 
positions would also be subject to investigation. Thus, depending on 
the span of years involved, the number of American adults might 
total considerably higher than nine million. 

Investigations by committees of the Senate and the House of 
Representatives sometimes covered government agencies and the 
military, but other inquiries into the teaching professions and the 
communications industries brought under official scrutiny some con- 
siderable number of additional persons in non-federal employment 
In addition, the loyalty of other individuals employed in the private 
sector came under official scrutiny through the requirement of a 
loyalty oath attached to various research grants made by the federal 
government, although such individuals were not actually subject to 
investigative procedures. To these millions, add the additional 
number whose political views came under scrutiny as a result of 
the security and loyalty programs of the various state governments. 
The two most populous states, New York and California, focused 
extensive investigative programs on teachers, and no less than a 
dozen other states had legislation covering various classes of em- 
ployees. 35 Municipalities added their weight to the numbers by 
their own investigative activities. 

The total number of individuals whose loyalty or security had been 
subject to official scrutiny by some organ of American government 
clearly extended into the many millions. The number of American 
families who had been affected by inquiry about one of their family 
members, and the additional number of families who had encountered 
such an inquiry through a field investigation of one of their acquaint- 
ances, friends, or relatives must have been so large as to make quite 
a dent in the consciousness of the American people. 

In contrast, investigations in England were focused on a much 
smaller group, those employed in sensitive posts in government or 
industry, and the aim was not to bar the individual from all employ- 
ment, but merely to decide whether he should be transferred to a 
less sensitive position. The recent case of Henry Houghton, found 
guilty in 1960 of selling secret information to agents of the Soviet 
Union, dramatically illustrates the difference in the British security 
program. Houghton had been a clerk in the office of the naval 

England and America 1962 241 

attache in Warsaw in 195 1, and was returned from this post to London 
on account of Ms drinking habits. Despite the potential security risk, 
he was appointed a year later to a post in the Underwater Detection 
Establishment of the British Navy, from which agency he stole the 
secret papers leading to his ultimate conviction. While the report of 
the Romer Committee, which was appointed to review security pro- 
cedures following the revelation of these spy cases, strongly criticized 
the security practices employed by the Admiralty, it notes that "given 
the security criteria of the time, no legitimate criticism can be made 
of Houghton's subsequent appointment in 1952 to a post in the 
Underwater Detection Establishment at Portland which did not in 
itself involve access to secret material " m 

Comprehensive evidence on the exact scope of the official British 
security program is not easy to obtain. Official documents and statis- 
tical summaries of cases suggest that the program has been limited to 
a narrow sphere of employment and to a limited number of indi- 
viduals. One can say that a much larger sphere and population could 
in fact be affected since investigations may be conducted secretly; 
witnesses similarly protected by secrecy; the real grounds for dis- 
missal, transfer, or lack of promotion of employees not revealed; 
and decisions on job applicants not disclosed. To estimate the mag- 
nitude of this covert sphere is, in the nature of the case, impossible. 
If one turns to sources other than the official ones, evidence is 
impressionistic, much of it qualitative material involving selected 
cases, and all of it difficult to evaluate. Organizations representing 
various classes of employees, teachers' and professors' associations, 
and unions of civil servants were vigilant about their interests and 
well informed on grievances. This increased the estimates but might 
still understate the extent of the problem, since some victims of 
improper security practices might be unsuspecting and occasional 
others might prefer, on grounds of self-interest, to hush up the matter. 
Interest groups concerned with problems of civil liberties, and vary- 
ing in their ideology and militancy, contributed additional evidence 
on the extent of the security program. 

From these sources, plus interviews with informants, I arrived at 
an approximate picture of the total scope, probably missing only 
those ramifications of official-security programs so secret that no 
member of the public was aware of them. Secrecy, so secret, cannot 
alter the climate or create an atmosphere of fear, although it certainly 
frees investigators from constraint and violates canons of law. 37 

242 The Radical Right 

The English security program, when Burst instituted in 1948^ was 
expressly limited to only a part of the civil service to those "em- 
ployed in connection with work the nature of which is vital to the 
security of the state," Additional security procedures introduced in 
1952 for government employees involved in "exceptionally secret 
work, especially work involving access to secret information about 
atomic energy," applied only to some 14,000 employees. 38 After the 
Burgess and MacLean case, a conference of Privy Councillors on 
Security suggested a strengthening of the security program and urged 
especially stringent precautions in the Foreign Service, and the defense 
and atomic-energy fields; these recommendations were accepted by 
the government. One informed estimate put the number of employees 
brought within the scope of these recommendations at about 
120,000. Between 1948-61, a total of 163 professional civil servants 
were involved in official cases arising out of all these procedures. Of 
these the largest group, 83, were transferred to non-secret positions, 
and 32 were reinstated. 39 

The changes in the procedures introduced in 1956, however, may 
be more sweeping than they appear. The reports of the Campaign for 
the Limitation of Secret Police Powers, representing a committee of 
distinguished individuals, including a considerable number of M.P.s, 
have criticized the newer procedures, especially the secrecy involved 
and the fact that the normal safeguards against arbitrary action by 
Ministers provided by the principle of parliamentary responsibility 
cannot apply under a veil of secrecy. This committee refers to cases 
in their files involving personnel in the Merchant Navy, the Central 
Office of Information, the Post Office, private industry involved in 
defense contracts, and military personnel seeking commissions. The 
number of these cases is difficult to estimate from their report. 40 
The annual reports of the National Council for Civil Liberties make 
reference to only a very small number of such incidents, and all 
such reports taken together hardly convey the impression of mag- 
nitude that one obtains from equivalent accounts of American cases 
summarized by scholars or by American organizations concerned with 
civil liberties. 41 By way of illustration, one summary by the American 
Civil Liberties Union abstracts and lists some seventy-five cases 
arising merely out of investigations by the House Un-American 
Activities Committee. In contrast, the annual report of the British 
National Council for 1956-57 remarks on "one or two disquieting 
reports of political discrimination creeping into employment where 

England and America 1962 243 

no security issue could by any stretch of the imagination be said to 
exist." The difference conveyed seems hardly accountable in terms 
merely of stylistic or expressive differences in annual report writing. 
On balance, it would appear that official English investigations of 
personnel in government and war-related industry have been limited 
in extent. 42 

Turning from the civil service and war-related industry to other 
occupational spheres, the contrast persists. In comparison with the 
extent of American investigation of the loyalty of teachers, the per- 
sonnel of English elementary and secondary schools appears to be 
almost free from official governmental scrutiny. One major case 
clearly constitutes an exception, but in its very character is most 
informative for our purposes. 43 Beginning in 1950, the Middlesex 
County Education Authority imposed a political test on all applicants 
for the position of head Teacher or for a staff position in teacher- 
training colleges, with the intent to debar past or present Communists 
or Fascists. It should be noted that this imposition occurred in only 
one of a hundred and forty-six Local Education Authorities in Eng- 
land and Wales, was restricted to a limited number of posts, and ap- 
plied only to applicants, rather than incumbents. Moreover, it repre- 
sented an action of a county authority that was expressly criticized by 
both the former and the then current National Ministers of Education, 
the current Minister even attempting by conference to persuade 
the local authority to reconsider its policy. In the years from 1950 to 
1955, this test remained in force, but was finally withdrawn when a 
new local government was voted into power. This one major excep- 
tion in the record of English schools was a passing thing, and the 
circumstances surrounding the reversal of policy are also informative 
for our inquiry. 

It has been argued that the relative freedom of English teachers 
and scholars from investigations into security and loyalty reflects 
the militancy of their opposition to political tests. Yet, in this partic- 
ular case, the national executive of the Teachers Union expressed it- 
self strongly, attempted to exert persuasion through higher political 
authorities, and made attempts to persuade candidates running for 
office in the course of two local elections during the period 1950-55, 
and all to no avail. From one other episode it is clear that the senti- 
ments of the rank-and-file members of the union, the teachers them- 
selves, were neither militant nor important in the final outcome. 
After other procedures had failed, the union leadership contemplated 

244 The Radical Right 

the extreme action of a teachers' strike, which before being called 
required a referendum from the membership. The vote on the refer- 
endum was three to one against a strike. 

With respect to British universities, comprehensive and detailed 
facts on the degree to which political considerations have affected 
the actual appointment or promotion of teachers are, in the nature 
of the case, difficult to determine. Such criteria could operate through 
informal and subtle means. But clearly it is the case that government 
has not attempted to intervene and apply official pressures to those re- 
maining in university positions, despite the fact that all British univer- 
sities in the recent period have been dependent on the state for the 
largest part of their support. 

There does appear to have been a certain amount of interference 
exercised indirectly by the English authorities over the international 
travel of liberal students and scholars, and their appointments to 
posts in other countries. These individuals, including one world-fa- 
mous scholar, have found that the host country denies them entry or 
employment on grounds of information that presumably must have 
been transmitted by English police authorities. Thus, there is evi- 
dence that such dossiers are compiled for teachers, in some unknown 
number. How frequent the practice has been and whether it repre- 
sents conventional police co-operation with requests initiated by 
other national governments or was initiated by the English authorities 
is not easy to evaluate. 44 

One rather exceptional case occurred in the fifties, in which the 
government intervened and indirectly terminated the employment of 
a lecturer at Birmingham University. The peculiar circumstances are 
especially revealing for a comparison of British and American prac- 
tices. In the case of Dr. J. H. Cort, an American citizen having 
a permit to reside in Great Britain, the Home Secretary terminated 
the permit upon pressures from the United States government. 45 
While the issues of the case are complex, it is interesting to note 
that the original source of the action was not British but stemmed 
from our side of the Atlantic. 

The British university teacher, like his American counterpart, has 
been subject to interrogation by government investigators who seek 
to assess the reliability of students who might enter government 
employment. The British Association of University Teachers took an 
official stand against questions concerning the political beliefs and 
associations of students; their spokesman, Lord Chorley, made a 

England and America 1962 245 

protest in Parliament, and the association provided their members 
with a special printed label to be attached as a reply to such inquiry 
whereby the teacher can register Ms disapproval of the investigation. 
The action of the organization hardly suggests a response of fear or 

There does appear to be one area of official investigation and 
activity that violates traditional civil liberties and creates pressures 
against the free expression of opinion. The police, by invoking 
various regulations, have created difficulties for various public demon- 
strations and meetings. There are periodic reports of police surveil- 
lance of those in attendance at political meetings and police investi- 
gation of the organization of such meetings, plus reports of rough 
treatment by police of public demonstrators. 46 Such police activity, 
in contrast with security procedures applied to specialized sectors 
such as the civil service or defense industries, would impinge on 
members of the general public and might diffuse an atmosphere of 
fear. Without denying the significance of such occurrences, it is 
likely 'that their impact is limited to a small circle within the public 
that is activist and that has nonconformist opinions. Evidence on 
this is provided by a national survey conducted in connection with 
the inquiry of the Royal Commission on the Police in late 1960. 
The sample includes but underrepresents young people aged 18-21, 
a group that may be more prominent among those involved in re- 
cent political demonstrations. The time of interviewing coincided 
with some demonstrations of the Committee for Nuclear Dis- 
armament, an organization that had figured earlier in the cases re- 
ported above of police intervention. Only five per cent of the total 
sample thought that the police often exercised too much force in 
handling people. Only four per cent knew personally of such instances, 
but about half of them had occurred in the distant past, and most 
of the instances did not involve demonstrators or participants in 
public meetings. 47 

In summary, it appeared that official-security procedures in England 
had been applied to a much smaller number of individuals within 
a relatively narrow sector of the society. The law of parsimony 
would suggest that the differences in the climate of political intoler- 
ance ancj the corollary atmosphere of fear in the fifties in the United 
States and England were a simple function of the magnitude of 
official investigation rather than a product of complex social, histori- 
cal, and psychological variables. Those who know they are free of the 

246 The Radical Right 

danger of investigation have no reason to be afraid. When millions 
of individuals, located everywhere, are brought under official scrutiny 
as possible security risks, it validates the belief that everyone ought 
to be regarded with suspicion, and it legitimates the idea of investi- 
gation itself, whether performed by professional officials or by ama- 
teurs. It thus encourages in the public at large a climate of intoler- 
ance toward those who may exhibit nonconformist opinions. 
" The suggestion seems congruent with the fact that pressures origi- 
..nating from outside of government, whether by the general public or 
specialized groups, and directed at nonconformists seem to have been 
j minimal in England. There seem to have been few if any public 
pressures against teachers. The Middlesex County issue provided an 
obvious focus for public sentiment, was brought to public awareness 
by the press, and yet produced no resonance on the part of the 
public. One case occurred in 1950 in which a lecturer was dismissed 
from the University of London, and it was alleged that political 
grounds were involved. 48 Apart from this instance, informants report 
little or no pressure on the part of the general or special publics 
against university teachers and students for their politics. 49 In 1949, 
the John Lewis department stores announced a policy of excluding 
Communists from employment, one instance of privately organized 
action against individuals in non-sensitive employment on the ground 
of their politics. The reaction in Parliament was to introduce motions 
condemning the policy, which served to undermine the legitimacy 
of such private pressures. 50 Apart from many instances within the 
British trade-union movement of pressures exerted on Communist 
Party members, there seems to be little evidence that private indi- 
viduals or groups have harassed others for nonconformist opinions. 
Indirect evidence in support of this evaluation is provided by data 
from a survey conducted in June, 1959. While two-thirds of the 
sample reported that there were some people with whom they would 
not discuss politics, of these fewer than four per cent (some two per 
cent of the total sample) gave the reason that it might jeopardize 
their job, and only about .2 per cent gave the reason that it could 
lead to trouble with authorities. 51 


The parsimonious explanation for the rarity of intolerant actions 
on the part of the British public, and the absence of an atmosphere 
of fear, is based on the character of the official-security programs. 

England and America 1962 247 

But I was unable to establish empirically whether the British 
public really held intolerant sentiments that remained latent because 
of political restraints. Systematic survey data, as noted, were not 
available to me, and a rigorous judgment would be that a diagnosis 
of British popular sentiment in this area is not possible. But 
certainly suggestive evidence is on the side of the second hypothesis. 
Even if such sentiments exist, very little has been done to agitate 
them, and a great deal has been done to keep them latent. 

Political exploitation of the Communist issue, which could conT 
tribute to a climate of intolerance, has been negligible. Within the 
Parliament, debate, if anything, has focused on questions or excesses 
in the security program. In the election campaigns over the last 
decade, political exploitation of the issue to smear one's opposition 
seems also to have been almost nonexistent. The General Election 
of 1959 provides a dramatic illustration of such restraint in that' 
the manifestoes of the Labour Party and Communist Party coincided 
on a number of policy issues, a similarity the Conservatives could 
readily have exploited but did not. 52 

Contrast the American handling of the issue in recent campaigns. 
In 1948, the cases of Alger Hiss and others had just come to light 
and became a hot campaign issue, leading the Chairman of the 
Republican National Committee to announce, "Once the Dewey- 
Warren Administration takes over, we will see the greatest house- 
cleaning in Washington since St. Patrick cleaned the snakes out of 
Ireland." The Lieutenant Governor of New York predicted with 
pride that if Dewey were elected, "no one will be exempted from 
scrutiny as to their loyalty to the country. No one will be so 
high that they cannot be brought down and no one so hidden that they 
cannot be uncovered. We will have Americanism in the highest mean- 
ing of the word when Mr. Dewey becomes President." 53 The 
1950 elections saw Senator McCarthy exploiting the Communist 
issue, and the 1952 elections may well have been a high point in the 
extravagant use of this issue for campaign purposes. 

Now, it may be argued that the difference between Britain and 
the United States in the extent of political exploitation of the Com- 
munist issue is only part of the solution to our problem, and that 
the other part of the answer involves the psychology of the public. 
Perhaps the English public would not have been susceptible to such 
appeals if they had been made, and the American public has the 
latent intolerance that makes them especially responsive to such 

248 The Radical Right 

political oratory. The formulation would again require empirical 
evidence on British sentiments of intolerance, which, as previously 
noted, are not available, and thus seem imponderable. But its plau- 
sibility can be questioned, for it is clear from extensive American 
survey data that the bulk of Americans showed no special responsive- 
ness in the 1952 election to the issue of domestic Communism, 
despite the lavishness of the campaign appeals. 

Following their study of that election, the Survey Research Center 
demonstrated that the issue was not salient to the voters, "only 3 per 
cent of the population mentioned the argument that the Democratic 
Administration has been 'soft to Communism.' * 54 The 1956 survey 
data indicate that the "issue had virtually disappeared." 55 Thus, any 
great significance that might be imputed to an American character 
structure as an explanatory principle seems unwarranted. For all one 
knows, the English might have been more susceptible to such appeals 
if they had been exploited! 56 This is not to deny the significance of 
such campaign tactics for the emergence of a climate of intolerance 
and the corresponding atmosphere of fear, for while the issue never 
became highly salient to the general American public, it may have 
cut deep into the minds of a smaller attentive public, and it may 
well have struck fear into the hearts of those who were sensitive 
and vulnerable to possible attack. 

Three of the celebrated British loyalty cases within the last decade 
represented potential focuses of political debate and, in turn, for 
public repercussions that might have altered the climate of tolerance. 
Here again one notes particular political structures and institutions 
which served as mechanisms to cool the atmosphere and reduce the 
consequences on the climate of tolerance. The Burgess and MacLean 
case certainly shook Parliament and aroused much discussion. In 
answer to the many questions asked, the government showed a good 
deal of reticence, and with repect to criticisms of laxity, the govern- 
ment countered that Burgess and MacLean had legal rights. It 
reacted by establishing in November, 1955, the Conference of Privy 
Councillors on Security, which did not present its findings until March, 
1956. As noted, the report urged more stringent security procedures, 
but it reaffirmed the principle that no extra powers to detain suspects 
or withdraw passports should be sought. 51 It may be urged that 
such reticence and delay mask incompetence and endanger internal 
security or, alternatively, that such secrecy masks an insidious and 

England and America 1962 249 

extensive security program. Nevertheless these procedures also served 
to maintain the tolerant climate. 

Again in 1961, two spy cases followed the same course. The 
Houghton-Gee-Lonsdale case, in March, 1961, led to the appoint- 
ment of the Romer Committee, which rendered a report in June, 
196 1. Only a summary of this report was made public; the Prime 
Minister remarked that it would not serve the public interest to dis- 
close the full report. The Blake case, resulting in a conviction in May, 
1961, led to the appointment of the Radcliffe Committee. A report 
of their findings was not made public until April, 1962, and the full 
findings were again withheld on the ground that it would not serve 
the public interest. 58 

A feature of the British security program provides another 
mechanism to reduce public sentiments below a fever point, and to 
minimize the fears of those who might be injured or stigmatized 
by the program. The decisions are not publicized. Individuals may 
be transferred quietly, or removed from a sensitive job. This is 
certainly a cause for suffering, but it is at least partially mitigated by 
the likelihood that the persons involved can remain in the community 
or obtain other work, since the reasons are not made public. Con- 
trast this with the pattern of American legislative investigations of 
suspects, where publicity is a common accompaniment of any ac- 
cusation. 59 Correspondingly, the publicity can aggravate the intoler- 
ance of the American public. 60 

It appears to me, then, that such political procedures and institu-! 
tions as I have described explain the differences in the English climate 
of political tolerance. In the absence of systematic evidence on the 
underlying opinions of the British public, one must still acknowledge 
the possibility that there are prior restraints internalized within the 
English character. However, it is also clear that the political mecha- 
nisms would act as external restraints on any latent public intoler- 

One may well ask: Why these particular political mechanisms? 
Those in power could have behaved so as to encourage latent 
intolerance. And there were and are in England other individuals 
clamoring for political power, some of them fanatical on the problem 
of Communism and security, and some who press their argument 
from a privileged position within the British elite. 61 One must 
analyze the political structures that guide and discipline the behavior 
of their members and into which the more fanatical individuals 

250 The Radical Right 

cannot insinuate themselves. 62 One must also examine the prevailing 
beliefs and values, the inner directives, that guide the conduct of 
the political elite but on these unfortunately, systematic survey 
data were not available. 

If, as I have conjectured, there is widespread intolerance in the 
British public, what insulates the elites and political structures from 
popular pressures? What frees them to follow their own inner direc- 
tives? In contrast with the American public, the English public may 
well accord more privacy and more deference to the elite. 63 Here is 
the focus for a most useful inquiry into the values of the English 
public. At the popular level, it may be in the area of deference, 
not tolerance, that we will find one key to the puzzle of the climate 
of political tolerance that emerged in England in the fifties. 

iSee, for example, various works cited below. One finds no equivalent to 
this extensive literature for the British security programs. While this may 
represent the bent of English scholarship or the complacency of English 
scholars, it also suggests that there was very little provocative enough to 
call for the attention of analysts. Two of the very few treatments of the 
British program are, interestingly enough, by American scholars. See E. 
Bontecou, "The English Policy as to Communists and Fascists in the Civil 
Service," Columbia Law Review, 51, 1951, pp. 564-86; H. H. Wilson, and 
H. Glickman, The Problem of Internal Security in Great Britain, 1948-1953, 
Doubleday Short Studies in Political Science, 1954. 

2 S. A. Stouffer, Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties (New York: 
Doubleday, 1955). 

3 M. Fiske, Book Selection and Censorship (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Uni- 
versity of California Press, 1959). 

4 P. R Lazarsfeld and W. Thielens, The Academic Mind (Glencoe: Free 
Press, 1958). 

5 M. Jahoda, "Anti-Communism and Employment Policies in Radio and 
Television,'* in J. Cogley, Report on Blacklisting, II, Radio-Television (The 
Fund for the Republic, 1956), pp. 221-81. 

6 M. Jahoda and S. Cook, "Security Measures and Freedom of Thought,** 
Yale Law Journal 61, 1952, pp. 295-333. 

7 In the Stouffer study, respondents who had reported that people did not 
feel as free to express opinions as formerly were asked which kinds of 
people felt less free. The leadership sample included individuals in local 
government and on the school and library boards, thus giving them an 
obvious vantage point for making observations of these sectors of personnel. 
The major differences in the responses to this sub-question for the leadership 
as against the general population was in the tendency of leadership to mention 
people in public life, educators, and intellectuals. (Op. cit., p. 79.) An 
illustration of the climate of fear among civil servants during that period 
was reported by Chief Justice Warren: "A few days ago I read in the news- 
paper that a group of state employees . , . charged with responsibility for 
determining what announcements could be posted on the employees* bulletin 
board refused to permit the Bill of Rights to be posted on the ground that 
it was a controversial document. It was reported that the altercation became 

England and America 1962 251 

intense, and that only after the Governor, in writing, vouched for its non- 
controversial character was the Bill of Rights permitted to occupy a place 
along with routine items of interest to state employees. And this happened 
in the United States of America on the 15th day of December, 1954, the 
163rd anniversary of our Bill of Rights, declared by proclamation of Presi- 
dent Eisenhower to be Bill of Rights Day." Quoted in John Lord O'Brian, 
National Security and Individual Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1955), p. 68. 

sit is obviously very difficult to find a simple and appropriate index of the 
strength of the Communist Party and the dangers it presented for the internal 
security of England or the United States, and to obtain the statistical evidence 
to compute the index. Some sense of the comparative situation is afforded 
by various facts. Within the United States, estimates of membership at various 
times have not run higher than 100,000, and a reasonable estimate for the 
period in question, the early fifties, would place it at under 50,000. The vote, 
which might provide a better index of popular support, at least in the pre- 
war years when the Communist Party was on the ballot, generally ran under 
50,000 and in the peak year was about 103,000, a fractional value of one per 
cent of the total vote. In the postwar years, the total third-party vote ran 
less than .1%, not counting the 1948 vote for Henry Wallace. In the postwar 
period in England, the Communist Party vote was also a fractional value of 
one per cent of the total vote cast, but was higher in magnitude than the 
corresponding American vote. The voting statistics for the United States are 
taken from conventional sources. For England, see Whittakefs Almanac* 1962 
(London: Whittaker's, 1962), p. 316. 

9V. Aubert, B. Fisher, S. Rokkan, "A Comparative Study of Teachers* Atti- 
tudes to International Problems and Policies: Preliminary Review of Rela- 
tionships in Interview Data from Seven Western European Countries,** Journal 
of Social Issues, 10, No. 4, 1954, pp. 25-39. Comparable national surveys 
in England, the United States, and other countries yield estimates of percep- 
tion of external threat from such indicators as expectation of war, belief 
that Russia is gaining over the United States, belief that the U.N. can main- 
tain peace, or the belief that Russia is trying for world domination. Such 
beliefs fluctuate over time; in some instances the Americans are more prone 
to perceive external threat, but at other times the total English population 
has been more threat-oriented, and their upper classes have been much more 
threat-oriented than their American counterparts. See Where Stands Freedom: 
A Report on the Findings of an International Survey of Public Opinion (New 
York: Time Magazine, April, 1948); for a summary of other results, see 
Otto Klineberg, Tensions Affecting International Understanding (New York: 
Social Science Research Council, 1950), Bull. 62, pp. 131-32, 174-75. 
10 In a recent discussion of "The Rampageous Right," Alan Barth, a long- 
time student of the problem, quotes and attributes the statement to Richard 
Hofstadter. See the New York Times Magazine, Nov. 26, 1961. 
11 R. H. Pear, an English political scientist, makes the point eloquently in a 
discussion of security problems when he remarks that it is "brutally obvious 
in England that government employees have no rights to their governmental 
employment." See "People, Government and Security,** Northwestern Uni- 
versity Law Review, 51, 1956, p. 107. 

12 For one of many illustrations of the lack of engagement of a value, see 
the Cornell studies, which establish that students who endorse democratic 
values do not apply them consistently to a series of concrete instances where 
they might logically be regarded as applicable. R. K. Goldsen, M. Rosen- 

252 The Radical Right 

berg, R. Williams, and E. Suchman, What College Students Think (Prince- 
ton: Van Nostrand, 1960). 
is Earth, op. tit. 
i^stouffer, op. cit., pp. 156-78. 

15 For many elaborations of this theory, see the original essays in this volume. 
The statement of the theory above does not do full justice to all the sub- 
sidiary propositions in the theory, but seems a not unreasonable statement 
of the heart of the argument. 

16 Such comparisons involve many technical complexities, but the evidence 
is substantial and the conclusions in general agreement. See, for example, D. 
V. Glass, ed., Social Mobility in Britain (London: Routledge and Kegan 
Paul, 1954), pp. 260-266; S. M. Lipset and H. Zetterberg, "A Theory of 
Social Mobility," Trans. Third World Cong. SocioL, 1956, III, pp. 155-77; 
B. Barber, Social Stratification (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1957), 469- 
77; S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, Social Mobility in Industrial Society 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), pp. 17-28. Admittedly, 
these theories demand more subtle types of measurement. For the upward 
mobile, the conservatism, conformity, and intolerance might be construed as 
a kind of anticipatory socialization, and so would call for some evidence on 
subjective class affiliation. But even here the English data show that forty 
per cent of manual workers identify themselves as middle class, and over 
half of these vote conservative. Mark Abrams, "Social Class and British 
Politics," Public Opinion Quarterly, 25, 1961, pp. 342-50. For comparative 
data for an earlier postwar period, in which the size of the subjectively 
defined middle class is fairly close for the two countries and the amount of 
false consciousness not markedly different, see W. Buchanan and H. Cantril, 
How Nations See Each Other (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1953), 
pp. 13-17. Ironically, these findings indicate a smaller "subjective" middle 
class in England and the United States than was found in eight other countries 
surveyed in the same inquiry. Other relevant data are based on a comparative 
study of former Communist Party members in the two countries. Downward 
social mobility, when subjectively appraised as deprivational, has figured in 
theories on the psychodynamics of Communist affiliations as well as in 
theories of intolerance. Comparing his small samples of former Communists 
on a variety of subtle indicators of status deprivation, Almond shows that his 
English subjects have deteriorated more from the status of their parents than 
his American subjects, exhibit somewhat less career dissatisfaction than the 
Americans, and exactly equal "personal damage" due to events and misfor- 
tunes. See G. Almond, The Appeals of Communism (Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1954), pp. 194-98. 

17 See, for example, "A Short Talk with a Fascist Beast," a young English 
laborer who took part in the beating of Negroes in the race riots in 1958. 
Quoted in S. M. Lipset, Political Man (New York: Doubleday, 1960), p. 98. 

18 How up-to-date, perhaps even American, the English prosecutor of 1793 
sounds in his address to the jury. **. . . he used constantly to be reading 
seditious publications in the back shop; it was there, in that cathedral of 
sedition, he sat like a spider, weaving his filthy web to ensnare the un- 
wary. . , . Even the poor organist could not pass the house of this demon 
of mischief but he must be stopped and desired to play ga ira a tune which 
is made use of in that unhappy country, France, as a signal for blood and 
carnage." A. E. Sutherland, "British Trials for Disloyal Association During 
the French Revolution," Cornell Law Quarterly, 34, 1948-49, pp. 313-14. 

England and America 1962 253 

19 G. Gorer, Exploring English Character (New York: Criterion Books, 1955), 
pp. 13-15. 

20 See, for example, V. L. Parrington, Jr., American Dreams: A Study of 
American Utopias (Providence: Brown University Press, 1947); L. Filler, 
Crusaders for American Liberalism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1939). 

21 A recent study obtained differences between Norwegian and French sub- 
jects. See S. Milgran, "Nationality and Conformity," Scientific American, 
205, Dec. 1961, pp. 4551. For an earlier study in which the English findings 
were inconclusive, see S. Schachter et al. t "Cross Cultural Experiments on 
Threat and Rejection: A Study of the Organization for Comparative Re- 
search," Human Relations, 7, 1954, pp. 403-39. 
22 Aubert, et aL, p. 33. 

23 A Social Profile of Detroit, 1956 (Ann Arbor: Survey Research Center, 
1957), pp. 57-62. 

24 Analyses of the American climate of intolerance in terms of susceptibility 
to compliance with social pressures also distract attention from two important 
features of the recent period. Most American adults did not have to comply 
in their attitudes they weren't nonconformists to begin with and the sus- 
tained pressures on the few who were nonconformists to start with were so 
severe that strength of character would have been little help. One may 
argue that in the formation of their original attitudes, a conformity process 
had already worked on the majority, but it seems valuable to distinguish 
such developmental phases of early socialization from later conformity proc- 
esses, in which a change in opinion or action is coerced. 

25 Ideally, comparative-trend surveys in both countries could be conducted, 
thus demonstrating changes in national climates of opinion as the respective 
contexts changed, and the differential response of national groups to situational 
factors. Earlier comparative national surveys provide one base-line point. In 
February, 1948, prior to the announcement of the British security program, 
surveys were conducted by Elmo Roper in nine European countries and the 
United States. One question asked was whether people did not have "today 
to a satisfactory degree** five specific freedoms. The British sample, in contrast 
to the Americans, very frequently mentioned the lack of the right to work 
at a job of one's choice or to private ownership of business, suggesting that 
the responses were discriminating. However, on the two freedoms relevant to 
our discussion "the right to say or write what one believes without fear of 
punishment" and "protection from unreasonable interference by police" the 
aggregate results are almost identical in the two countries, with only a small 
minority asserting that such freedoms were infringed. Comparisons between 
the American and the British educated strata, containing those individuals 
who would be more likely to be sensitive to and knowledgeable about such 
problems, reveal almost identical distributions, with only a small minority 
questioning the existence of such freedoms. Where Stands Freedom, op. cit. 

26 H. Hyman and P. B. Sheatsley, "Trends in Public Opinion on Civil Liber- 
ties," Journal of Social Issues, 9, No. 3, 1953, pp. 6-16. 

27 The earlier trend data are reported in Hyman and Sheatsley, op. cit. The 
1954 trend point was reported in Stouffer, op. cit., p. 56. The 1956-57 data 
are as yet unpublished- 

28 1 have in mind not only President Kennedy's California speech of No- 
vember, 1961, but also other episodes such as the recent rebuke accorded 
a reporter who questioned the loyalty of two State Department employees. 
A chain of events was thus set in motion in which the broadcast networks 
made an official inquiry to determine whether a lawsuit would follow if the 

254 The Radical Right 

story were carried, and the Under-Secretary of State left the parties in 
suspense. N.B.C. deleted the item from its transcription of the President's 
news conference, and the reporter declined to make any further public com- 
ment. The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1962, p. 12. 

29 Some evidence is provided by a comparison of Gallup Poll findings on 
public opinion toward the John Birch Society with findings the Poll obtained 
on public approval of McCarthy in the early fifties. 

30 This is a rather interesting example of a self -fulfilling prophecy among 
research workers. You can't find out that you do have a problem you think 
you don't have, if you don't study it. More generally, as I have suggested 
elsewhere, we will never be able to work toward a "theory of public opinion" 
until we have data showing how a new opinion emerges from an earlier 
state in which there were no opinions of that particular type held. Survey 
research here again shows how it has identified what is problematic for study 
almost exclusively with what is an issue, a hot problem, and this has been 
to its disadvantage. 

si C. Bay, I. Gullvag, H. Ofstad, and H. Tonnessen, Nationalism (Oslo, 
Institute of Social Research, 1953), III, pages not numbered. While this was 
a period of military build-up, following Norway's joining NATO and the 
Korean War, and a period in which legislation for "preparedness" was being 
debated, it should also be noted that there was much criticism of such legis- 
lation, and a good deal of it was abandoned. Also, the effective climate of 
opinion allowed for much dissent and the expression of nonconformist opinion. 

32 See the releases of the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion. 

33 See various releases of the Australian Institute of Public Opinion. 

34 These summary figures are taken from the Report of the Special Com- 
mfttee on the Federal Loyalty -Security Program of the Association of the 
Bar of the City of New York (New York: Dodd Mead, 1956), passim. 

35 For detailed accounts of activities in two of the states, see L. H. Chamber- 
lain, Loyalty and Legislative Action: A Survey of Activity by the New York 
State Legislature, 1919-1949 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1951); E. L. 
Barrett, Jr., The Tenney Committee: Legislative Investigation of Subversive 
Activities, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1951). For a brief summary 
of activities of states, see Ralph S. Brown, Jr., "Loyalty-Security Measures 
and Employment Opportunities," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, XI, No. 4, 
1955, pp. 113-17. Brown reports that "about half the states required test 
oaths of their employees, including teachers," and he estimates the number 
of state and local government employees subject to tests at about two million. 

36 Manchester Guardian, June 14, 1961, p. 1:1. (Italics ours.) 

3T Of greater concern as a possible source of bias in my findings was the 
extent of investigation known or believed to be practiced but whose detailed 
nature remained unknown to my informants. This latter type of investigation, 
because of its "semi-secret" character, could have profound psychological 
effects and would be the perfect device to create an atmosphere of anxiety. 
While anxiety stemming from such a psychological source is readily reported 
and is relevant to the study, its basis in objective reality cannot be determined 
because the facts are not known. 

38 Quoted in R. H. Pear, "People, Government and Security," Northwestern 
University Law Review, 51, No. 1, 1956, pp. 105-11. 

39 State Service, Journal of the Institution of Professional Servants, XLI 
No. 4, 1961, p. 102. 

40 Campaign for the Limitation of Secret Police Powers, A Year with the 
Secret Police. 

England and America 1962 255 

41 See the National Council for Civil Liberties, Annual Reports for the 
years, 19551961. For equivalent American accounts of cases, see, for example, 
E. Bontecou, The Federal Loyalty-Security Program (Ithaca: Cornell Univer- 
sity Press, 1953), pp. 101-56; A. Yarmolinsky, Comp.., Case Studies in 
Personnel Security (Washington: Bureau of National Affairs, 1955); Jahoda 
and Cook, op. cit^ American Civil Liberties Union, Mimeo Report, n.d. 

42 Discussions in print and conversations with informants often mention the 
very same case, that of Mr. J. H. A. Lang, the Assistant Solicitor of Imperial 
Chemical Industries, who was forced to resign as a result of threats to refuse 
the company government contracts, the official reason being that his wife 
had once been a Communist By contrast, the same research procedure applied 
in the United States would no doubt have turned up a much more varied list 
of cases. Perhaps this reflects the notoriety of the Lang case, but it also 
suggests that informants and critics have a much more limited population 
of cases to draw upon for evidence of miscarriages of the British security 

43 It is exceedingly difficult to determine the full extent of discrimination on 
political grounds exercised by local authorities in the appointment, continua- 
tion, or promotion of teachers. Officials of the National Union of Teachers, 
whose membership includes about seventy-five per cent of all teachers, report 
that the number of such grievances brought to their attention are very few, 
and probably reflect the true number of occurrences. Only one such case is 
cited in. the reports of the National Council for Civil Liberties in the period 
studied. See Annual Report, 1956-57, p. 6. The publication "A Year with 
the Secret Police,** issued by the Campaign for the limitation, of Secret 
Police Powers, alludes to cases in the teaching profession, but cites no 
instances in detail. 

44 See the cases cited by the Campaign for the Limitation of Secret Police 

45 For a brief account of the complex legal and political aspects of the case, 
see Lord Chorley, "Dr. Cort and the Association of University Teachers," 
University Review, 27, 1954, pp. 3-7. 

46 See, for example, National Council for Civil Liberties, Annual Reports 
for 1957-58, 1958-59. See also this organization's Submission to the Royal 
Commission on Police^ November, 1960. 

47 The Social Survey, COI* The Relations between the Police and the Public, 
SS 321, December, 1960, p. 66. 

48 The Association of University Teachers in its review of the case claimed 
that no evidence of political discrimination was demonstrable. University 
Review, 23, 1950, No. 1, p. 5. 

49 Consider a recent item in the British press in which the chairman of the 
Ruskin College Communist Club at Oxford remarks of future club plans, 
"We expect to draw considerable support. We've been making tentative 
inquiries with the University Authorities and anticipate no opposition from 
them.** In the same article, it is reported that the Oxford University Com- 
munist Club will resume its activities, lapsed since 1956, having found a 
new senior faculty sponsor in the person of a Roman Catholic, not himself 
a Communist, who was Professor of Religion. The Manchester Guardian, 
June 10, 1961. 

50 Quoted in Bontecou, op. cit., pp. 256-57. 

51 These data were made available to me by Gabriel Almond from his Com- 
parative Survey of Citizenship, and are gratefully acknowledged. 

52 A series of definitive volumes on the general elections of the last decade 

256 The Radical Right 

are available, and reading of these bears out the general conclusion above. 
There are occasional instances where the issue of domestic Communists arose, 
but the nature of the assertions, ironically enough, would serve usually not 
to smear the opposition at all, but perhaps to lose whatever advantage was 
implicit in the issue. See H. G. Nicholas, The British General Election of 
1950 (London: Macmillan, 1951); D. E. Butler, The British General Election 
of 1951 (London: Macmillan, 1952); D. E. Butler and Richard Rose, The 
British General Election of 1959 (London: Macmillan, 1960). An episode 
reported in a study of the Greenwich constituency during the 1950 General 
Election will illustrate the restraints. The Conservative candidate and his 
agent drafted a leaflet exploiting the fact that the Labour candidate, a Mr. 
Reeves, had made certain speeches in the Commons that were sympathetic 
to the Soviet Union. The leaflet carried the slogan "Reeves and Crypto-Com- 
munism." The Conservative Party chairman had been against the publication 
and, following its appearance, he closed the committee room, removed the 
posters from the windows, and did not reopen until "some very strong 
words had passed between candidate and chairman." See, M. Benney, A. P. 
Gray, and R. H. Pear, How People Vote (London: Routledge, 1956), pp. 

53 Quoted in Bontecou, op. cit., pp. 102-3. A content analysis of forty 
speeches by Dewey and Truman revealed that about ten per cent of their 
remarks dealt with the Communist issue, domestic and foreign. See B. Berel- 
son, P. F. Lazarsfeld, and W. N. McPhee, Voting (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1954), p. 236. 

54 A. Campbell, G. Gurin, and W. E. Miller, The Voter Decides (Evanston: 
Row, Peterson, 1954), p. 52. Louis Harris gives more weight to the issue 
of domestic Communism in the 1952 election, but he also indicates that it 
was far from salient, in that it was not volunteered by more than eleven 
per cent as a major national issue. See L. Harris, Is There a Republican 
Majority? (New York: Harper, 1954), p. 32. Cf, also the findings cited 
earlier from Gallup Polls on the far from universal appeal of Senator 

55 A. Campbell, P. Converse, W. Miller, and D. Stokes, The American Voter 
(New York: John Wiley, 1960), p. 51. 

56 Mark Abrams, a distinguished English survey-research expert and political 
analyst, conducted a special survey in 1960 "to establish those attitudes and 
social values which have led the electorate to turn away steadily from the 
Labour Party over the past ten years." In the course of this survey, a list 
of sixteen political goals was presented to the sample, and they were asked 
to choose the four that were most important in a good political party. 
Obviously, the sixteen were designed to cover the spectrum of political values 
that might possibly be important to Englishmen and that might have been 
inadequately supported by the Labour Party's past actions. As Abrams 
remarks, "The sixteen formed a reasonably comprehensive coverage of 
current political values." The issue of domestic Communism was not included, 
suggesting that it is of no special significance to the British working-class 
universe. But here again it is unfortunate, from our theoretical point of view, 
that no empirical evidence was obtained. See Abrams, op. cit. 

57 Statement on the Findings of the Conference of Privy Councillors on Secu- 
rity (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, March, 1956), CMD No. 9715. 
^Security Procedures in the Public Service (London: Her Majesty's Station- 
ery Office, April, 1962), CMD No. 1681. It is very difficult to summarize 
the findings of this rather lengthy report of about forty pages. The American 

England and America 1962 257 

newspaper accounts stressed those aspects of the report that refer to the 
dangers from Communists in the Civil Service and among the officials In 
the Civil Service trade unions. Yet the recommendations did not suggest the 
extension of security procedures to all government departments, "many of 
which by the nature of their work have little or no need for special security 
measures" and the committee urged that "security arrangements . . . will be 
the more effective the more limited is the field to be protected." 

59 See, for example, accounts by the American Civil Liberties Union of the 
activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee. There is even the 
suggestion that findings of security investigations by federal administrative 
agencies have on occasion been communicated to potential private employers. 
See Bontecou, op. cit., pp. 64-66. 

60 it might be suggested that the English people hold strongly the value of 
privacy, and thus accept and do not invade the domain of secret investiga- 
tions of security. For an interesting discussion of the concepts publicity and 
secrecy, and the third concept, privacy, as they affect the problems of cli- 
mates of opinion, see Edward Shils, The Torment of Secrecy (Glencoe: Free 
Press, 1956). 

61 For a case study of one such attack by a member of the elite, see the 
account of Lord Vansittart's 1950 speech in the House of Lords against 
Communism in the B.B.C. (Wilson and Glickman, op. a*/., passim,) in part, 
the behavior of the legitimate political elite and of fringe leaders is re- 
strained to some extent by the severe English libel laws. Thus, for example, 
Atlee brought a libel suit against the National Workers Party in 1936, which 
was settled in his favor. Similarly, Lord Camrose brought suit against 
Mosley's British Union of Fascists in 1937 and received heavy damages. See 
David Riesman, "Democracy and Defamation: Fair Game and Fair Comment 
I," Columbia Law Review, 42, 1942, pp. 1085-1123. 

62 1 have in mind not only the formal analysis of political structures but the 
obvious consequences of the fact that one of the major parties is the 
Labour Party. 

63 1 am indebted to Gabriel Almond for various suggestions about features 
of English political culture that could be relevant to the problem. His forth- 
coming comparative study, based on surveys of the publics of England and 
four other nations, will contribute much-needed evidence. 


The Sources of the 

"Radical Right" 1955 1 


IN THE last five years we have seen the emergence of an 
inportant American political phenomenon, the radical right. This 
group is characterized as radical because it desires to make far- 
reaching changes in American institutions, and because it seeks to 
eliminate from American political life those persons and institutions 
which threaten either its values, or its economic interests. Needless 
to say, this movement is opposed to the social and economic reforms 
of the last twenty years, and to the internationalist foreign policy 
pursued by the successive Administrations in that period. 

The activities of the radical right would be of less interest if 
it sought its ends through the traditional democratic procedures of 
pressure-group tactics, lobbying, and the ballot box. But, while most 
individuals and organizations which we shall consider as part of the 
radical right do use these means, many use undemocratic methods 
as well. The singular fact is that radical right agitation has facilitated 
the growth of practices which threaten to undermine the social 
fabric of democratic politics. The threats to democratic procedure 
which are, in part, an outgrowth of radical right agitation involve 
attempts to destroy the right of assembly, the right of petition, the 
freedom of association, the freedom to travel, and the freedom to 
teach or conduct scholarly research without conforming to political 
tests. 2 This movement, therefore, must be seriously considered by all 
those who would preserve democratic constitutional precedures in 
this country. 

In evaluating the activities of the radical right, this chapter is 
divided into three sections: Part 1 deals with continuing sources of 

260 The Radical Right 

extremist politics in America as they have their sources in American 
history; Part 2 analyzes the social groups which are more prone than 
others to support the radical right today; and Part 3 deals with the 
specific character of McCarthyism as the principal expression of 
radical right ideology on the current scene. 

Status and Class Politics 

Any analysis of the role of political extremism in the United States 
must recognize two fundamental political forces operating under the 
varying historical conditions of American society. These forces may 
be distinguished by the terms status politics and class politics. Class 
politics refers to political division based on the discord between the 
traditional left and the right, i.e., between those who favor redistribu- 
tion of income, and those favoring the preservation of the status quo. 
Status politics, as used here,, refers to political movements whose 
appeal is to the not uncommon resentments of individuals or groups 
who desire to maintain or improve their social status. 3 

In the United States, political movements or parties which stress 
the need for economic reform have usually gained strength during 
times of unemployment and depression. On the other hand, status 
politics becomes ascendant in periods of prosperity, especially when 
full employment is accompanied by inflation, and when many indi- 
viduals are able to improve their economic position. The groups which 
are receptive to status-oriented appeals are not only those which 
have risen in the economic structure and who may be frustrated in 
their desire to be accepted socially by those who already hold status, 
but also those groups akeady possessing status who feel that the 
rapid social change threatens their own claims to high social position, 
or enables previously lower status groups to claim equal status with 
their own. 

The political consequences of status frustrations are very different 
from those resulting from economic deprivation, for while in economic 
conflict the goals are clear a redistribution of income in status 
conflict there are no clear-cut solutions. Where there are status 
anxieties, there is little or nothing which a government can do. It 
is not surprising, therefore, that the political movements which have 
successfully appealed to status resentments have been irrational in 
character, and have sought scapegoats which conveniently serve to 

The Sources of the "Radical Right' 3 1955 261 

symbolize the status threat. Historically, 'the most common scape- 
goats in the United States have been the minority ethnic or religious 
groups. Such groups have repeatedly been the victims of political ag- 
gression in periods of prosperity, for it is precisely in these times that 
status anxieties are most pressing. 4 

American political history from this perspective emerges in a fairly 
consistent pattern. Before the Civil War, there was considerable anti- 
Catholic and anti-immigrant activity. Such agitation often took the 
form of organized political parties, the most important of which was 
the Know-Nothing or American Party. And it was during a prosperous 
decade that these parties and movements were at their height. The 
Know-Nothings who polled one fourth of the total popular vote for 
President in 1856 reached their greatest power in a period of wide- 
spread prosperity and inflation and practically vanished in the de- 
pression year 1857. 5 The American Protective Association (A.P.A.), 
which emerged in the late 1880s, was the next major organized 
anti-Catholic movement and it too arose in a period of renewed 
prosperity. A contemporary analyst of this movement has pointed to 
the status concerns which motivated many of the members of the 

Latter day Know-Nothingism (A.PAJsm) in the west, was perhaps 
due as well to envy of the growing social and industrial strength of 
Catholic Americans. 

In the second generation American Catholics began to attain higher 
industrial positions and better occupations. All through the west, they 
were taking their place in the professional and business world They 
were among the doctors and the lawyers, the editors and the teachers 
of the community. Sometimes they were the leading merchants as well 
as the leading politicians of their locality. 6 

Interestingly enough, the publisher of many anti-Catholic A.P.A. 
works was also the publisher of the Social Register, which was first 
copyrighted in 1887, the year in which the AJP.A. was organized/ 
a fact which suggests a possible link between this mass organization 
and the desire of high-status, old family Americans to resist the 
upward mobility of the second generation Catholics. A large number 
of individuals listed in the Social Register were among the important 
financial supporters of the A.P A., as well as of other anti-immigration 

262 The Radical Right 

The Progressive movement, which flourished from 1900 to 1912, is 
yet another protest movement which attracted the interest and partici- 
pation of large numbers of Americans during a period of high 
prosperity. This movement, while differing considerably from the 
others, since it was concerned with liberal social reforms, may, 
nevertheless, be a reflection of status politics. Richard Hofstadter 
has suggested that it was based in large measure on the reaction 
of the Protestant middle class against threats to its values and status. 8 
The Progressive movement had two scapegoats the "plutocrat" mil- 
lionaires, and the immigrants. 9 The rise of the "robber barons," the 
great millionaires and plutocrats of the late nineteenth and early 
twentieth centuries, served to challenge the status of many old, 
upper-middle-class American families which had previously consid- 
ered themselves the most important group in society; these new 
millionaires were able to outdo them in philanthropy and in setting 
new styles of life. The Progressive movement, like previous expres- 
sions of status politics, was also opposed to immigration. It viewed 
the immigrant and the urban city machines based on immigrant sup- 
port as a basic threat to American middle-class Protestant values. 

And finally the Ku Klux Klan, which vigorously attacked the 
rights of minority groups, also emerged in prosperous times, the 
1920s. It is important to note, however, that while the Klan was 
against Jews, Catholics and Negroes, it also represented the antag- 
onism of the small town and provincial city Protestant lower-middle 
class and working class against the "cosmopolitanism" of the upper 
classes. The upper-class, largely metropolitan-centered, Protestant 
churches were a frequent target of Klan attack. The English minister 
of a high Protestant church, divorced women who were accused of 
"playing around," physicians who had allegedly engaged in sexual 
irregularities with patients, were among those subjected to Klan vio- 
lence, 10 

At its height, the Klan had the support of millions of individuals, 
and dominated political life in Indiana, Maine, Colorado, Oklahoma, 
Texas, Oregon, Arkansas, Ohio, and California. It would be rash 
to give any simplified interpretation of the factors underlying such 
an important social movement. If, however, one asks what had 
occurred on the American scene to encourage such a mass expression 
of provincial resentment, one important factor is the growing pre- 
dominance of the large metropolitan centers, which were centers of 
Catholics, Jews, and high-status Protestants. In the changing world 

The Sources of the "Radical Right' 3 1955 263 

of post-World War I America, the fundamentalist provincial was 
faced with the fact that he and his communities had lost much of 
their independence and status. The war boom, and later, the prosperitj 
of the twenties, made it possible for many individuals to rise eco- 
nomically, including members of previously lower-class minority 
groups such as the Jews and Catholics. The Catholics were also be- 
ginning to get national political power. These changes were paralleled 
by a seeming decline in basic morality, and a growth in religious 
cynicism. The Klan, with its attack on metropolitan "cosmopolitan- 
ism" and the more traditional minority ethnic scapegoats, seems to 
have provided an outlet to the frustrated residents of provincial 
America, who felt their values, power, and status slipping away. 

The hypothesis that the Klan represented the reaction of a large 
section of provincial America to the frustrations of boom-time social 
change may, of course, be questioned in view of the fact that it 
declined considerably as an organization after 1926, before prosperity 
ended. This decline, however, seems in large measure to be related 
to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Klan leaders were 
publicly exposed as obvious charlatans, who were using the organi- 
zation to feather their own nest, and to the social pressure directed 
against the Klan by the upper class and every section of the press. 
The loss of respectability led to a rapid withdrawal from the organi- 
zation by its middle-class adherents, and the jailing for fraud of some 
of its leaders soon disillusioned the large section of working-class 

The 1928 Presidential election campaign, however, witnessed a 
new outburst of bigotry directed against the Catholic Democratic 
candidate, Al Smith (which showed that the sentiments which 
gave rise to the Klan had not vanished). In this election, the 
Democratic Party increased its vote in the large metropolitan centers, 
while reaching its lowest point in decades in the smaller communi- 

These four movements, Know-Nothings, A.P.A., Progressives, and 
Ku Klux Klan, all illustrate the way in which American society 
has thrown up major protest movements in periods of prosperity, 
thus confounding the general assumption that protest politics are 
primarily products of depressions. The prosperity movements differ 
from those groups who are products of economic crises in that they 
find "scapegoats" who threaten their value system, while other protest 
groups have direct economic targets. The Progressives, a group one 

264 The Radical Right 

does not normally see this way, were concerned with the manner 
in which the nouveaux riches and the immigrants were corrupting 
American institutions, while the Klan, a status-resentment group par- 
excellence, attacked the "cosmopolitanism" of Catholics, Jews, and 
the metropolitan elite, which undermined the middle-class Protestant 
virtues. Perhaps the most significant single fact concerning the 
strength of the Klan and the role of organized bigotry in America 
is that every effort to build a mass social movement based on bigotry 
during the great depression of the 1930s had little success. It is 
the common concern with the protection of "traditional" American 
values that characterizes "status politics" as contrasted with the regard 
for jobs, cheap credit, or high farm prices, which have been the 
main emphases of depression-born "class politics." 

If we assume that this is a pattern in American politics, it is not 
surprising that the continuing prosperity of the late nineteen 
forties and early fifties should also have developed a political move- 
ment resembling the four discussed above. McCarthyism, like its 
predecessors, is characterized by an attack on a convenient scapegoat, 
which is defined as a threat to American institutions, and also 
involves an attempt to link "cosmospolitan" changes in the society to 
a foreign plot 11 

The State of Tolerance in America 

A second important factor to consider in evaluating present trends 
in American politics is the traditional attitude toward tolerance in 
American society. The historical evidence, some of which has been 
cited above, indicates that, as compared to the citizens of a number 
of other countries, especially Great Britain and Scandinavia, Amer- 
icans are not a tolerant people. In addition to discrimination against 
ethnic and religious minorities, each war and most prewar situations 
have been characterized by the denial of civil liberties to minorities, 
often even of minorities which were not opposed to the war. Aboli- 
tionists, for example, faced great difficulties in many areas, North as 
well as South, before the Civil War. Many were fired from schools 
and universities. During World War I, German-Americans and Social- 
ists often experienced personal physical attacks, as well as economic 
discrimination. In the last war, the entire Japanese-American popu- 
lation on the West Coast was denied the most elementary form of 
personal freedom. 12 

Political intolerance has not been monopolized by political extrem- 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 265 

ists or wartime vigilantes. The Populists, for example, discharged 
many university professors in state universities in states where they 
came into power in the 1890s. Their Republican opponents were not 
loath to dismiss teachers who believed in Populist economics. Public 
opinion polls, ever since they first began measuring mass attitudes in 
the early thirties, have repeatedly shown that sizable numbers, often 
a majority, of Americans oppose the rights of unpopular political 
minorities. 13 In both 1938 and 1942, a majority of the American 
public opposed the right of "radicals" to hold meetings. 

The state of current attitudes toward civil liberties has been re- 
ported on in detail in a study by Samuel Stouffer, based on inter- 
views with a random sample of Americans in the spring of 1954. Large 
sections of the American population opposed the rights of atheists, 14 
Socialists, 15 and Communists 16 to free speech and free publication. 

One important factor affecting this lack of tolerance in American 
life is the basic strain of Protestant puritanical morality which has 
always existed in this country. Americans believe that there is a 
fundamental difference between right and wrong, that right must be 
supported, and that wrong must be suppressed, that error and 
evil have no rights against the truth. This propensity to see life 
in terms of all black and all white is most evident, perhaps most 
disastrous, in the area of foreign policy, where allies and enemies 
cannot be gray, but must be black or white. 17 

The differences in fundamental economic philosophy and way 
of life between the Democrats and Republicans in this country are 
far less than those which exist between Conservatives and Socialist 
in Great Britain. Yet political rhetoric in this country is comparable 
in Europe only for those campaigns between totalitarians and their 
opponents. While McCarthy has indeed sunk American political 
rhetoric to new depths, one should not forget that his type of 
invective has been used quite frequently in American politics. For 
example, Roosevelt called some of his isolationist opponents, "Cop- 
perheads," a term equivalent to traitor. 18 If various impressionistic 
accounts are to be believed, many Republicans, especially Republican 
businessmen, have a far deeper sense of hatred against Roosevelt 
and the New Deal, than their British or Scandinavian counterparts 
have against their socialist opponents. 

Although Puritanism is probably one of the main sources of 
American intolerance, there are certainly many other elements which 
have contributed to its continuance in American life. The lack of 

266 The Radical Right 

an aristocratic tradition in American politics helped to prevent the 
emergence of a moderate rhetoric in political life. Almost from the 
start of democratic politics in America with the early adoption of 
universal male suffrage, the political machines were led by professional 
politicians, many of whom were of lower-middle-class or even poorer 
origins, who had to appeal to a relatively uneducated electorate. This 
led to the development of a campaign style in which any tactic that 
would win votes was viewed as legitimate. Thus, Jefferson was 
charged with "treason," and with being a French agent before 1800, 
while Republicans waved the "bloody shirt" against the Democrats 
for decades following the Civil War. In order to involve the masses 
in politics, politicians have sought to make every election appear as 
if it involved life or death for the country or for their party. 

Another factor which has operated to diminish tolerance in this 
country has been mass immigration. The prevalence of different 
cultural and religious ways of life has always constituted a threat 
to American stability and cultural unity. In order to build a nation, 
it was perhaps necessary that men should be intolerant of the practices 
of newcomers, and should force them to assimilate. All through 
world history, the intermingling of people from different cultural 
backgrounds has resulted in strife. Such conflict is obviously not 
conducive to the emergence of a tradition of civic discipline, in 
which everyone has the right to live out his life as he sees fit, and 
in which minorities are protected. 

The minority immigrant groups themselves have contributed to 
the support for conformity. One of the principal reactions of members 
of such groups to discrimination to being defined as socially inferior 
by the majority culture is to attempt to assimilate completely Amer- 
ican values, to reject their past, and to overidentify with Americanism. 
They tend to interpret indiscrimination against their ethnic group as 
a consequence of the fact that they are foreign and they behave 
differently, that in short they are insufficiently American. Many of 
those who adopt the assimilationist solution attempt to enforce con- 
formity within their own group, and are intolerant of those who would 
perpetuate foreign ways and thus earn the enmity of those of Anglo- 
Saxon origin. 19 

At least one other element may be suggested as having operated 
against the development of tolerance: those situations which have 
encouraged or required men to take the law into their own hands in 
order to enforce the moral values of the dominant groups in society. 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 267 

Such events occurred in the South after the Civil War, and in the 
West continuously with the expansion of the frontier. In the South, 
as Myrdal has pointed out, the conservative groups have resisted 
legal procedures in order to maintain white supremacy. On the 
western frontier, many men considered it necessary to engage in 
vigilante activities to eliminate lawlessness. Both of these traditions, 
especially the continuing Southern one, have helped to destroy civic 

Americanism as an Ideology: Vn- Americanism 

A third element in American life related to present political events 
is the extent to which the concept of Am.erica.nJsm has become a 
compulsive ideology rather than simply a nationalist term. American- 
ism is a creed in a way that "Britishism" is not 

The notion of Americanism as a creed to which men are con- 
verted rather than bom stems from two factors: first, our revolution- 
ary tradition which has led us to continually reiterate the superiority 
of the American creed of equalitarianism, of democracy, against 
the old reactionary, monarchical and more rigidly status-bound sys- 
tems of European society; and second, the immigrant character of 
American society, the fact that people may become Americans that 
they are not simply born to the status. 

But if foreigners may become Americans, Americans may become 
"un-American." This concept of "un-American activities," as far as 
I know, does not have its counterpart in other countries. American 
patriotism is allegiance to values, to a creed, not solely to a nation. 
An American political leader could not say, as Winston Churchill 
did in 1940, that the English Communist Party was composed of 
Englishmen, and he did not fear an Englishman. 20 

Unless one recognizes that Americanism is a political creed, much 
like Socialism, Communism or Fascism, much of what is currently 
happening in this country must remain unintelligible. 21 Our national 
rituals are largely identified with reiterating the accepted values of 
a political value system, not solely or even primarily of national 
patriotism. For example, Washington's Birthday, Lincoln's Birthday, 
and the Fourth of July are ideological celebrations comparable to 
May Day or Lenin's Birthday in the Communist world. Only Memo- 
rial Day and Veteran's Day may be placed in the category of purely 
patriotic, as distinct from ideological, celebrations. Consequently, 
more than any other democratic country, the United States makes 

268 The Radical Right 

ideological conformity one of the conditions for good citizenship. And 
it is this emphasis on ideological conformity to presumably common 
political values that legitimatizes the hunt for "un-Americans" in our 

The Multiple Elites 

While factors persistent in the culture have exerted great pressure 
towards conformity to the creed of Americanism, yet the rapid 
growth, and size, of the United States has prevented American so- 
ciety from developing an integrated cultural or power structure simi- 
lar to those in smaller and older tradition-oriented European nations. 
One cannot, for example, speak of an American elite, be it economic, 
political or cultural. The elites that exist are fractioned regionally, 
ethnically, and culturally, so that friction and competition constantly 
arise among these segmented groups: West against East, North 
against South, new rich versus old rich, Anglo-Saxons against minor- 
ity ethnics, the graduates of Ivy League schools against others, etc. 

This segmentation has facilitated the emergence of new social 
movements, religions, and cultural fads. But it also has prevented 
any one of them from engulfing the country. Each new movement is 
opposed by some segment of a rival elite, as well as that part of the 
general population which follows it Thus Populism, the Ku Klux 
Klan, the abortive labor and socialist parties, the Progressive move- 
ment, and the Know-Nothings, have all had important successes 
within specific regions, communities, or ethnic groups; but each died 
away without coming to national power. In the United States, seem- 
ingly, with the exception of prohibition, it has been impossible to 
build a durable national movement on a single issue, or on an appeal 
to a single interest group. 

While the heterogeneity and sheer size of the United States ap- 
parently bar any extremist ideological group from coming to national 
power, it also promotes the emergence of such groups on a more 
parochial base since any can almost always find enough supporters, 
leaders, and financial backers to make an impression on the body 
politic. Any appeal, be it anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, Huey Long's 
"Share the Wealth movement," Townsend's Old Age pension cru- 
sade, monetary reform, Technocracy, or others such as those men- 
tioned earlier, will have some appeal. It is almost an axiom of Amer- 
ican politics that any movement can find some millionaire backing, 
and it does not take many millionaires to set up an impressive look- 

The Sources of the "Radical Right 39 1955 269 

ing propaganda apparatus. Each of the various radical groups, the 
Socialist Labor Party, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party, 
has had its millionaires. In recent decades, the Communists were 
more successful than others on the left in this regard. 

The fact that it is relatively easy to build a new political or eco- 
nomic reform movement in America has often been overlooked by 
many observers because of the failure of every effort to construct 
a third major political party a difference, obviously, between the 
ease of a movement and the difficulty of a party. The failure of 
third-party efforts has been a consequence, however, of the Ameri- 
can electoral system with its requirement that only one party can 
control the executive branch of the government at one time. Actually, 
the two major American parties are coalitions, and the underlying 
base of American politics is much closer to the French multi-party 
system than it is to the British two-party political structure. American 
parties are coalitions of distinct and often conflicting factions, and 
no one interest group is able to dominate the government. As in 
France, however, it is relatively simple for a new ideological or 
interest group to gain representation, but it is almost impossible for 
it to secure majority control of the government 22 For example, in 
the 1920s many Klan-backed individuals were elected to Congress, 
state legislatures, and some governor's office. At about the same 
time, the quasi-socialist Non-Partisan League won control of the 
Republican Party and the state government in North Dakota, and 
had considerable influence in a number of other midwest states, 
while an offshoot of it captured the Democratic Party and the gov- 
ernor's chair in Oklahoma. In the 1930s the Democratic Party of 
California, Oregon and Washington, was captured temporarily by 
Socialist factions i.e., Upton Sinclair's EPIC movement in Cali- 
fornia, and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in the other 
two coast states. At the same time, three Northern midwestem states 
were actually governed by left-wing offshoots of the Republican Party 
the Non-Partisan League in North Dakota, the Progressive Party 
in Wisconsin., and the Fanner-Labor Party in Minnesota. Townsend, 
Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Communists were also able to 
send some men to Congress through the mechanism of winning pri- 
mary contests in one of the major parties. Today, as in the past, 
various ideological or interest factions strive to increase their rep- 
resentation in government through rather than against the traditional 

270 The Radical Right 

The fact that the leaders of American political parties have much 
less influence over the men whom they elect than do the heads of 
parties in the British Commonwealth also facilitates the emergence 
of dissident political tendencies. A Labor or Tory member of the 
British parliament could never engage in a one-man crusade with a 
power comparable to control of a Senate committee such as Senators 
Langer, La Follette, and McCarthy have done at different times. 

The tendency of American society to throw up new movements 
or organizations is, of course, not limited to the political field. 
Tocqueville, more than a century ago, called attention to the Amer- 
ican propensity, as compared with the greater lassitude of Europeans, 
to form organizations for various purposes. The reason for this dis- 
tinctive pattern lay in the fact that America did not have a distinct 
aristocratic elite which could fulfill the functions of organization and 
leadership performed by the elite in Europe. And, Tocqueville 
argued, the very multitude of existing voluntary associations facili- 
tated the emergence of new ones, since the older associations, be- 
cause they train men in the skills of organization, provide a resource 
when some new need or new social objective is perceived. 23 What 
little comparative data exist, suggest that this empirical generali- 
zation is still valid. 24 

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Americans who regard Com- 
munism as a great evil should form associations to combat it. These 
groups are but one more manifestation of American political and 
moral activity, much like the popular attempts to ban liquor, 
gambling, or immorality in comic strips. One may point to similar 
developments in the sphere of religion. Perhaps no other country, 
including Israel, has thrown up so many new religious sects. Spirit- 
ualism, the Mormon Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day 
Adventists, Christian Science, and the Churches of God, are but 
some of the sects with over 100,000 church members which were 
born in the United States. 

The various dissident social and religious movements have re- 
flected the openness of the American social order. Conventional mor- 
ality is not supported by a cohesive system of social control since 
there are, in effect, a variety of moralities. This generalization does 
not contradict the previous discussion of intolerance in American 
life, for intolerance to be effective on a national scale must represent 
the will of a majority or all-powerful group. Fortunately, with the 
exception of groups which are defined as agents of a foreign actual 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 271 

or potential military enemy, It has been impossible for any group 
to convince the country to actively support restrictions against others 
who do not conform to the beliefs of one or another segment of 
American society. A Canadian sociologist, S. D. Clark, has com- 
mented on this aspect of American society. He suggests that the 
much tighter political and social control structure of Canada frus- 
trates efforts at dissident movements before they can develop, while 
the United States permits them to emerge, but frustrates their dreams 
of power: 

Critics outside the country [the United States] might well pause to 
consider not the intolerance which finds expression in McCarthyism but 
the tolerance which makes it possible for McCarthyism to develop. In 
Canada It would be hard to conceive of a state of political freedom 
great enough to permit the kind of attacks upon responsible political 
leaders of the government which have been carried out in the United 
States, More careful examination of the American community in gen- 
eral, and perhaps of the academic community in particular, would 
probably reveal that, in spite of the witch hunts in that country, the 
people of the United States enjoy in fact a much greater degree of 
freedom than do the people of Canada. 25 

The Shift to the Right 

Four aspects of American society have been suggested as con- 
tributing to an understanding of extremist political developments In 
the United States: the role of the status-driven during periods of 
prosperity, their fear of other groups which threaten their status; the 
absence of a firm tradition of civic discipline or tolerance; the defini- 
tion of Americanism in ideological terms; and the lack of an inte- 
grated cultural and political social control structure. 

In order to understand the recent manifestations of political in- 
tolerance, however, it Is necessary to discuss a fifth factor, the 
consequences of a liberal or conservative climate of opinion on the 
power of extremist groups. The period from 1930 to 1945 saw the 
predominance of liberal sentiment in American politics. This was 
largely the result of two factors, the depression and the threat of 
Fascism. The depression emphasized the need for socio-economic re- 
forms and helped to undermine the legitimacy of conservative and 
business institutions. It was followed immediately by a war which 
was defined as a struggle against Fascism. Since Fascism was a right- 

272 The Radical Right 

1st movement, this fact tended to reinforce the political predomi- 
nance of leftist liberal sentiments. 

During this period the political dynamic in most democratic 
countries was in the hands of the left, and it used this strength to 
undermine the prestige of conservatism. In the United States, for 
example, several Congressional Committees conducted exposes of 
"undemocratic" activities of big business. In the thirties, the Nye 
Committee "exposed" the way in which Wall Street bankers had 
helped plunge the United States into World War I in order to main- 
tain their investments, while the La Follette Committee revealed 
that large corporations employed labor spies and gangsters to prevent 
their employees from forming trade unions. The famous Truman 
Committee often exposed big business profiteering during World War 
IL All three committees helped to foster an anti-business and anti- 
conservative climate of opinion. It is quite true that the House Un- 
American Activities Committee operated at the same time as the 
liberal committees, but though it secured considerable publicity, it 
was relatively unimportant compared with the role of anti-subver- 
sive committees in the post-war years. 

The period of liberal supremacy was also marked by a great 
growth in the influence of the Communist Party. In the United States, 
the Communists were concerned with penetrating and manipulat- 
ing liberal and moderate left groups, rather than with building an 
electoral party. The Communists, by concealing their real objectives, 
by acting positively for liberal causes, by being the best organizers 
of the left, were able to penetrate deeply into various liberal organ- 
izations and into the labor movement. An index of their success may 
be seen in the fact that close to a dozen Congressmen, one state 
governor, many members of the staffs of liberal Congressmen and 
Congressional Committees, and a number of high-racking civil 
servants, showed by their subsequent political behavior that they 
were close followers of the Communist Party. 

The post-war period, on the other hand, has seed a resurgence of 
conservative and rightist forces. This has resulted from two factors, 
a prolonged period of prosperity and full employment, and second, 
the change in foreign policy. Where once we warred against Fascism, 
which is identified with the "right," we now war against Communism, 
which identifies with the "left." And while Fascism and Communism 
are much closer to each other in moral consequences and actual 
practice than either is to the democratic right or left, by the general 

The Sources of the "Radical Right 95 1955 273 

populace, the one is considered right and the other left. 26 And Just 
as the Communists were able to secure considerable influence dur- 
ing the period of liberal ascendency, right-wing extremists have 
been able to make considerable headway during the conservative 
revival. Thus, the period from 1947-48 to 1954 presents a very dif- 
ferent picture from the previous decade and a half. The conservatives 
and the extreme right are now on the offensive. The "free enter- 
prise" system which provides full employment is once more legiti- 
mate. Liberal groups feel in a weak position politically, and now 
wage a defensive battle, seeking to preserve their conquests of the 
thirties, rather than to extend them. 

It is striking to observe the similarities in the rhetoric of the 
liberals and conservatives when on the offensive. In the thirties, 
conservatives, isolationists, business leaders, Republican Senators 
and Congressmen were criticized by some liberals as being semi- 
Fascist, or with being outright Fascists. Similarly in the last half- 
decade, many conservatives have waged an attack on liberals, 
Democrats and opponents of a vigorous anti-Russian foreign policy 
for being pro-Communist, or "creeping Socialists." The sources of 
the violent attack on conservatism in the earlier period came in 
large measure from the Communists and their fellow-travelers, al- 
though it was voiced by many liberals who had no connection with 
the Communist Party and were unaware of the extent to which 
they had absorbed a Communist ideological position. More recently, 
the extreme right wing, the radical right of the American political 
spectrum, has been successful in setting the ideological tone of con- 

It is important to note the parallelism in the rhetoric employed 
by liberals when criticizing the State Department's policy toward the 
Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and that used by 
many extreme rightists toward the policy of the same department a 
few years later in the Chinese Civil War., The liberal left magazines 
portrayed an American foreign office staffed by men who were sym- 
pathetic to extreme conservatism if not outright Fascism, and who 
tricked Roosevelt and Hull into pursuing policies which helped 
Franco. Various individuals, some of whom are still in the State De- 
partment, such as Robert Murphy, were labeled as pro-Franco. The 
recent right-wing accusations that our Chinese policies were a result 
of Communist influence in government sound like a rewritten version 
of the Fascist conspiracy of the thirties. The same allegations about 

274 The Radical Right 

the social background of State Department members, that many of 
them come from Groton, Harvard, and the Brahmin upper class, 
were used by the Communists in the thirties to prove that the State 
Department was ultra-rightist in its sympathies, and are used today 
by McCarthy and other radical rightists to account for presumed 
sympathies with Communism. 27 The 'State Department's refusal to 
aid Loyalist Spain was presented as convincing proof of the presence 
of Fascist sympathizers within it. In the same way, the radical 
right now refuses to acknowledge that men may have made honest 
errors of judgment in their dealing with the Russians or the Chinese 

So similar are the political approaches of the radical right and the 
Communists that one may fittingly describe the radical right doctrine 
as embodying a theory of "Social Communism" in the same sense 
as the Communists used the term "Social Fascism" in the early 
thirties. The Communists, before 1934, argued that aH non-Com- 
munist parties including the Socialists were "Social Fascists," that is, 
they objectively were paving the way for Fascism. The principal 
organ of the radical right today, The Freeman, contends that all 
welfare state and planning measures are "objectively" steps toward 
the development of a totalitarian Communist state. The New Deal, 
Americans for Democratic Action, the C.LO. Political Action Com- 
mittee, all are charged with "objective" totalitarianism. Both the 
Communists and writers for The Freeman have argued that the 
"social" variety of Fascism or Communism is more dangerous than 
the real thing, for the public is more easily deceived by a sugar- 
coated totalitarian program. The Communists in pre-Hitler Germany 
concentrated their fire not on the Nazis, but on the "Social Fascists," 
the socialists and liberals, and The Freeman and other sections of the 
radical right let loose their worst venom on the American liberals. 

An example of the violent character of this ideology may be seen 
in a 1950 Freeman article which contended that, "This new political 
machine, which , , . rules the old Democratic Party is an out- 
growth of the C.LO.'s Political Action Committe (PAC)." It further 
claimed that "every single element in the Browder [Communist 
Party] program was incorporated in the PAC program. It has been 
the policy of the Administration ever since." The labor movement 
organized around Truman because of the Taft-Hartley Act. Why, 
asked this Freeman writer, did labor unite against this act, which 
though it "injured the Communists . . . certainly did not injure the 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 275 

workers." . . . Because the Communists executed another strategic 
retreat. They let go of their prominent offices in the C.I.O. but they 
still had control of the press, and the policy-making and opinion- 
forming organs. Then they got their ideas into the opinion-forming 
agencies of the AFL, especially its League for Political Education. 

"How could the AFL be captured by the Communist policy- 
makers? It had a great tradition, but in face of C.LO. *gains/ its 
leaders thought they had to c do something.* And the Communists 
were ready and waiting to tell them what to do policies nicely 
hidden behind the cloak of higher wages, more benefits, but still 
fitting perfectly the symbols laid down to guide policy-makers by 
Earl Browder in 1944." 

The article went on to ask, "What proof have we that the 
Politburo in Moscow wanted the election of Wallace? Wallace cer- 
tainly did not poll the total Communist vote. For eight years they 
had worked on getting control of a major party. Why give up the 
Truman party? . . . 

"Practically every word of Truman's campaign came, again, 
from Browder's pattern of 1944, which is the policy of the PAC. 
Practically every word of his attack on the 80th Congress can be 
found earlier in the pages of the Daily Worker and the People's 
Daily World. 

"What then was the role of Wallace and the third party? It was 
the old Communist dialectic. By setting up Wallace as the left,' the 
Communists could make Truman's platforms and speeches look like 
the 'center.'" 28 

Here is a picture of the real world that should be placed side by 
side with that of the Communists. As they see a country controlled 
by a self-conscious plot of Wall Street magnates, of two "capitalist" 
parties competing just to fool the people, this radical rightist sees a 
nightmarish world in which the Communists also have two politi- 
cal parties in order to fool the people, in which Wallace's million 
votes only represented a presumably small part of total Communist 

In both periods, the thirties and the fifties, the extremists have 
been able to capitalize on sympathetic predispositions. These ideo- 
logical predispositions have not reflected sympathy with extremism 
by the average liberal or conservative, but rather led men to view 
with sympathy any attack directed against their principal political 
opponents. The lack of any normative restrictions against violent 

276 The Radical Right 

political rhetoric in American politics, to which attention was called 
earlier, facilitated the adoption by basically unideological politicians 
of terminology which in large part resembles that used by rival 
totalitarian in Europe. In effect, the extreme left and right have 
been able to influence the ideological setting of American politics 
since the early thirties. The radical right today, like the Communists 
before them, have been able to win influence far outweighing their 
numerical, support in the general population, because they have 
seemingly been the most effective fighters against those policies and 
groups which are repugnant to all conservatives. 


The Two Conservatives 

The conservative elements in American society can be divided 
into two groups, the moderate conservatives and the radical right. 
These two may be differentiated by their attitude toward the New 
Deal era. The moderates are generally willing to accept the past 
within limits, that is, they do not want "to turn the clock back." 
They accept various Roosevelt reforms; they tolerate the labor move- 
ment; they tend to be internationalist in ideology and to accept the 
policies of Roosevelt in the last war. Moderate conservatives also 
believe in constitutional processes, civil liberties, and due process. 

The radical right, on the other hand, refuses to accept the recent 
past, or is radical in the quixotic sense that it rejects the status quo. 
Most, though not all of the radical right are opposed to: (1) the 
welfare state; (2) the labor movement; (3) the income tax; (4) 
World War II the radical right sees the war as an avoidable mis- 
take, and prefers in retrospect a policy of Russia and Germany 
fighting it out alone. 29 

In a larger sense, the radical right views our entire foreign policy 
from the recognition of Russia to Potsdam as appeasement, treason 
and treachery. It is opposed to membership in the United Nations, 
and to entangling foreign commitments. It is Asia-oriented, rather 
than Europe-oriented. It is suspicious of Great Britain as a Machia- 
vellian power which has manipulated us into two wars, and now 
refuses to back us in our time of need. 

Since the radical right believes that both our domestic and foreign 
policies over the last twenty years have represented tremendous set- 
backs for the country, it seeks an explanation of these calamitous 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 277 

errors, and finds it in the penetration of the government and the 
agencies of opinion formation by the Communist movement. The 
radical right is far from having a unified ideology. Some groups 
are more concerned with our past and present foreign policy, others 
with domestic affairs. But the common denominator which unites the 
radical right is the identification of the policies which it opposes, 
either in the economic or foreign sphere, with the "softness" of 
Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party to the Soviet Union and 
the American Communist Party. 

To some extent the two principal sources of bitter opposition to 
Roosevelt and the Democrats, the extreme economic conservatives 
and the isolationists, have tended to come together and adopt each 
other's ideologies. For example, right-wing Texans were ardent advo- 
cates of American entry into World War II. The Texas legislature 
by an almost unanimous vote passed a resolution telling Charles 
Lindbergh that he was not welcome in Texas during his leader- 
ship of America First. Today, however, many of the same Texans 
regard our participation in World War II as a blunder. On the 
other hand, a number of isolationists, such as Burton K. Wheeler, 
William Henry Chamberlain, and others, who were liberal or radi- 
cal in economic matters, have become domestic conservatives. John 
T. Flynn is perhaps the outstanding example. He wrote regularly for 
the New Republic during the thirties and criticized Roosevelt's do- 
mestic and international policies from a left-wing point of view. 
With the onset of World War II, Flynn joined the America First 
movement. This action subjected him to vicious smears from liberal 
interventionists, who charged that he cooperated wife Fascists. 30 
He found increasingly that his audiences and the magazines that 
would accept his articles were right-wing conservatives, and gradually 
in joining with the right in foreign policy, he accepted their position 
on economic issues as well. 

It is difficult to demonstrate that similar changes in political 
ideology have occurred among sections of the general population. 
A cursory inspection of election results in Wisconsin and other mid- 
west states, however, indicates that many voters who once supported 
liberal isolationists are now backing right-wing nationalists. It would 
be interesting to know, for example, what proportion of those who 
supported the isolationist but progressive Bob La Follette in Wis- 
consin now backs McCarthy. Conversely, some of the economic radi- 
cal rightists such as the new millionaires of Texas, or men who 

278 The Radical Right 

were involved in the Liberty League in the thirties, have accepted 
the Isolationist interpretation of the past, even though they were 
not isolationists before World War II. 

Increasingly, a coherent radical right ideology has emerged which 
attacks past Democratic foreign policy as pro-Soviet, and criticizes 
New Deal economic policy as Socialist or Communist inspired. What 
are the sources of the support of the radical right in this country? 
It is difficult to answer this question since the groups who back the 
efforts to suppress the civil rights of men with whom they disagree, 
do not themselves agree on all or even most issues. The common 
denominator on which all the supporters of extremist action in the 
political arena agree is vigorous anti-Communism. This issue, to- 
day, has replaced anti-Catholicism or anti-immigrant sentiment as 
the unifying core for mass right-fang extremist action. One can 
identify some of the groups which play important roles in the anti- 
Communist crusade. These include groups reacting to the need for 
status policies, both the upward mobile ethnic population, and some 
of the downward mobile old American groups; groups responding 
to economic as well as status appeals; the nouveaux riches, and the 
insecure small businessmen; the traditionalist and authoritarian ele- 
ments within the working-class groups whose values or ties to groups 
in other countries make them especially vulnerable to anti-Commu- 
nist appeals (such as the Catholics or people coming from countries 
occupied by the Communists) ; and the traditional isolationists, espe- 
cially those of German ancestry. 

Status Politics and the Radical Right 

One traditional source of extreme conservatism in the United 
States is the derivation of status from a claim to the American past 
the people who belong to such filio-pietistic organizations as the 
Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, veterans' 
organizations, historical commemoration societies, patriotic groups, 
etc. The point one must always recognize in considering such organ- 
izations is that few of them are actually what their name implies. 
That is, most of these organizations which supposedly contain all 
those who have a right to membership in the groups by virtue 
of their own actions or those of their ancestors only are supported 
by a minority of those who are eligible. The Daughters of the Ameri- 
can Revolution, for example, do not contain all the female descend- 
ants of Revolutionary soldiers, but only a small segment, those who 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 279 

choose to identify themselves in that fashion. 31 The same point may 
be made about the membership of groups commemorating the War 
of 1812, the Civil War, the Confederacy, and other comparable 
groups. Further, in practice, the members who are active in these 
groups, who set policy, constitute an infinitesimal minority of the 
total membership. 

What is the minority deriving status and other gratifications from 
such membership? Various sociological insights may be of some help 
here although unfortunately there is little or no research on their 
membership. It has been suggested that individuals who participate 
in such societies tend disproportionately to be people who have little 
other claim to status. They may be members of families which once 
were important, but whose present position is such that on the 
basis of personal achievement Mone they would have little right 
to social prestige. Many such individuals tend to magnify this one 
claim to status, a claim to history, a claim to lineage, an Identifica- 
tion with a heroic American past, which other people cannot have. 
It is their defense against the newcomers, against the rising minority 
ethnic groups. And consequently, such individuals and their organi- 
zations make a fetish out of tradition and past styles of life, and 
tend to be arch-conservative. Thus the groups which have the great- 
est sense of status insecurity will oppose both economic reform and 
internationalism, both of which are viewed as challenges to tradi- 

While on one hand, the status-threatened old-family American 
tends to over-emphasize his identification with American conserva- 
tive traditions, and thus be potentially or actually a supporter of the 
radical right, the new American, the minority ethnic, also is in 
strong need of asserting his status claims. For while the old American 
desires to maintain his status, the new American wishes to obtain 
it, to become accepted. This is particularly true for those members 
of the minority groups who have risen to middle or upper class 
position in the economic structure. These groups, having entered at 
the bottom, tend to view the status hierarchy as paralleling the 
economic ladder; they believe that one need only move up the eco- 
nomic scale to obtain the good things of the society. But, as they 
move up economically, they encounter social resistance. There is 
discrimination by the old-family Americans, by the Anglo-Saxon 
against the minority ethnics. The Boston Brahmins, for example, 

280 The Radical Right 

do not accept the wealthy Irish. 32 As Joseph Kennedy, father of 
the present Senator and former Ambassador to Great Britain, once 
put it in reaction to the fact that the Boston press continually made 
reference to him as Irish: "I was born here, my children were born 
here. What the hell do I have to do to be an American?" All 
through the country, one can find ethnic groups, often composed of 
third and fourth generation Americans, who have developed their 
own middle and upper classes, but who are still refused admittance 
into the social circles of Anglo-Saxon Protestants. One of the major 
reactions to such discrimination, as indicated earlier, is to become 
overconformist to an assumed American tradition. Since many mem- 
bers of these ethnic groups do not want to be defined as European, 
they also tend to become isolationist, ultra-patriotic, and even anti- 
European. For them, as for the old American traditionalist, the 
positive orientation towards Europe of liberals, of moderate conserv- 
ative internationalists, creates a challenge to their basic values and 
to their rejection of Europe. Thus the status-insecure old-family 
American middle class, and the status-striving minority ethnics, both 
arrive at similar political positions. 

But to return at this point to the theme developed in the earlier 
discussion of status politics, status insecurities and status aspirations 
are most likely to appear as sources of frustration, independent of 
economic problems, in periods of prolonged prosperity. For such 
times make it possible for individuals and groups who have moved 
up to constitute a visible threat to the established status groups; 
while at the same time the successfully mobile begin to search for 
means of improving their status. It is obvious that there are always 
many who do not prosper in periods of prosperity. And it is precisely 
members of the older prestigeful groups who are disproportionately 
to be found among the rentier class economically, with many living 
on fixed incomes, old businesses and the like sources of income 
which are prone to decline in their relative position. 33 

Thus, clearly, prosperity magnifies the status problem by chal- 
lenging the economic base of the older groups, and accentuating the 
claim to status of the emerging ones. As a general hypothesis I 
would suggest that -the supporters of the radical right in the 1950s 
come disproportionately from both the rising ethnic groups, and 
those old-family Americans who are oriented toward a strong iden- 
tification with the past. 34 

The Sources of the ''Radical Right" 1955 281 

The Economic Extremists 

A second source of support for extreme right-wing activities, here 
as in other countries, is the important group of newly wealthy in- 
dividuals thrown up by great prosperity. New wealth most often 
tends to have extremist ideologies, to believe in extreme conserv- 
ative doctrines in economic matters. 35 The man who makes money 
himself feels more insecure about keeping it than do people who 
possess inherited wealth. He feels more aggrieved about social re- 
form measures which involve redistribution of the wealth, as com- 
pared with individuals, still wealthy, who have grown up in an old 
traditionalist background, which inculcates the values of tolerance 
traditionally associated with upper-class aristocratic conservatism. It 
is not without reason that the new millionaires, such as those in 
Texas, have given extensive financial support to radical right move- 
ments, politicians, and to such propaganda organizations as Facts 

While the most important significance of the newly wealthy lies in 
the power which their money can bring, rather than in their numbers, 
there is a mass counterpart for them in the general population, the 
small independent businessmen. Statistical data on social mobility 
in the United States indicates a great turnover in the ranks of these 
groups. 36 A large proportion, if not a majority of them, come from 
other social strata: the small storekeepers and businessmen often 
are of working-class origin; the small manufacturer often comes out 
of the ranks of executives, white collar or government workers. 

These small businessmen, perhaps more than any other group, 
have felt constrained by progressive social legislation and the rise 
of labor unions. They are squeezed harder than large business, since 
their competitive position does not allow them to pay increases in 
wages as readily as can big firms. Governmental measures such as 
social security, business taxes, or various regulations which require 
filling out forms, all tend to complicate the operation of small busi- 
ness. In general, these people are oriented upwards, wish to be- 
come larger businessmen, and take on the values of those who are 
more successful, or perhaps more accurately, they tend to take over 
their image of the values of more powerful groups, values which 
are often those of the radical right. Thus, as an hypothesis, it may 
be suggested that in terms of economic interest motivation, the 

282 The Radical Right 

principal financial support of the radical right comes from those who 
have newly acquired wealth, and from small business. 37 

Extreme conservatism on economic matters is, of course, not new. 
During the thirties it was represented by the Liberty League, and by 
various measures of organized business groups to block the develop- 
ment of trade unions. In general, one could probably safely say that 
most big business was willing to use undemocratic restrictive meas- 
ures, such as labor spies and thugs, to prevent the emergence of 
trade unions in the twenties and thirties. The basic difference be- 
tween the radical right and the moderate right, at present, however, 
is that the moderate right, which seemingly includes the majority of 
big business, has come to accept the changes which have occurred in 
the last twenty years, including trade unions and various social re- 
forms, whereas the radical right still looks upon these as basic threats 
to its position. In practice economic rightists' efforts to turn the clock 
back have been successful in many states which are characterized by 
the lack of metropolitan areas, by rural and small-town predominance 
in the legislatures. In such states, laws have been passed outlawing the 
closed union shop, the amendment to repeal the income tax amend- 
ment to the Constitution has been endorsed by the legislature, and 
other legislation designed to destroy the reforms of the thirties and 
forties has been enacted. The fact remains, however, that -the bulk 
of the reforms and institutions the liberal left created in the thirties 
and forties remain intact, and the business conservatives and the 
radical right cannot feel secure or victorious. 

The "Tory" Worker 

The previous sections have dealt with factors differentiating middle- 
and upper-class supporters of right-wing extremism from those who 
back more moderate policies. The stress on the radical right backers 
in these strata does not mean that the principal support of this 
type of politics lies here. In fact, survey as well as impressionistic 
data suggest that the large majority of these classes adhere to mod- 
erate politics, principally those of the moderate conservative, and 
that the overwhelming majority of the middle and upper groups 
have been consistently opposed to McCarthy and the whole radical 
right movement. The various studies of attitudes toward civil lib- 
erties and McCarthy suggest that the lower a person is in socio- 
economic status or educational attainment, the more likely he is to 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 283 

support McCarthy, favor restrictions on civil liberties, and back a 
"get tough" policy with the Communist states. 38 

The lack of tolerance exhibited by large sections of the lower 
classes as compared with the middle classes is, of course, quite 
understandable. Support of civil liberties or tolerance for persons 
with whom one strongly disagrees requires, one would guess, both 
a high degree of material and psychic security, and considerable 
sophistication. As compared with the bulk of the middle and upper 
classes, the working class lacks these attributes. The consequences 
of these differences are manifest not only in the political arena, 
but in religion as well, for chiliastic evangelical religions have tended 
to draw their support from the lower classes, while liberal "tolerant* 
denominations have almost invariably been middle- and upper-class 

When one attempts, however, to go beyond the variables of eco- 
nomic status and education, in distinguishing between support or 
opposition to McCarthy or greater or less tolerance in civil liberties 
among the lower classes, the principal differentiating factors seem 
to be party allegiance, and religious beliefs. In the United States and 
Great Britain, the conservative workers, those who back the Tory 
or Republican parties, tend to have the most intolerant attitudes. 
Comparative impressionistic data suggests that these differences are 
not inherent in vaiying social strata, but rather are a consequence of 
partisan identifications and values. That is, the Democratic and 
Labour parties are more concerned with propagating a civil libertar- 
ian value system than are the conservative parties. Within the 
Democratic and Labour parties, however, the working class is more 
intolerant than the middle class. 39 

The support which a large section of the American working class 
gives to right-wing extremism today may also be related to the 
greater sense of status deprivation felt by "failures" in periods of 
prosperity discussed earlier. Workers who fail to get ahead while 
some friends, classmates, and fellow war veterans do, are also likely 
to feel embittered. This prosperity-born bitterness should result in 
more varied forms of protest in America than in Europe, since Amer- 
ican workers, unlike European ones, do not have a Socialist ideol- 
ogy which places the blame for individual failure on the operation 
of the social system. 40 While the lower strata constitute the largest 
section of the mass base of the radical right, especially of McCarthy, 
who, as we shall see later, makes a particular appeal to them, in 

284 The Radical Right 

power terms they are the least significant. Up to now, there are 
no organized working-class groups, other than some of the funda- 
mentalist churches, which support radical right activities. 41 And 
unlike the middle- and upper-class supporters of rightist opinions in 
the area of civil liberties, and foreign policy, who are also eco- 
nomic conservatives, many of the lower-class followers of radical- 
right leaders are in favor of liberal economic policies. Those workers 
who tend to back extreme right policies in economic as well as civil 
liberties and foreign policy areas tend to be the most traditionalistic 
and apolitical in their outlook. The principal significance of lower- 
class attitudes, therefore, lies in the votes and responses to public 
polls which they contribute to the radical right rather than in their 
potential utilization as part of a mass base for an organized move- 
ment. 42 

The Isolationists 

A fourth basis of strength of the radical right has developed out of 
the old isolationist-interventionist controversy. The traditional iso- 
lationists have become, in large measure, a base of the radical 
right. If one looks over the background of isolationism in this 
country, it seems largely rooted in ethnic prejudices or reactions, ties 
to the homeland, and populist xenophobia. Samuel Lubell, for ex- 
ample, suggests, "The hard core of isolationism in the United States 
has been ethnic and emotional., not geographic. By far the strongest 
common characteristic of the isolationist-voting counties is the res- 
idence there of ethnic groups with a pro-German or anti-British bias. 
Far from being indifferent to Europe's wars, the evidence argues 
that the isolationists are oversensitive to them." 43 

During two wars, the pro-German ethnic groups have been iso- 
lationists. In addition to the Germans, and some midwestern Scan- 
dinavian groups tied to them by religious and ecological ties, many 
Irish also have opposed support of Britain in two wars. Because Ger- 
man influence was concentrated in the Midwest, and in part because 
Isolationist ideologies were part of the value system of agrarian radi- 
calism, isolationism has been centered in the Midwest, especially 
among once-radical agrarians. The agrarian radicals of the Mid- 
west tended to be xenophobic, suspicious of eastern and interna- 
tional finance capitalism. The various agrarian movements regarded 
efforts to involve the United States in European conflicts as motivated 
by the desire of eastern bankers to make money. The radical agrarian 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 285 

character of isolationism, however, gradually began to change for 
at least two reasons: (1) numerically its mass Midwest base became 
less and less rural as the farm population declined, and more and 
more small-town middle class in character; and (2) interventionism 
was identified with the New Deal and social reform. 44 Thus the 
small-town midwestem middle class was anti-New Deal, conservative 
and isolationist; this all added up to a fervent opposition to Roosevelt 
and his domestic and foreign policy. 

This former isolationist group, especially its German base, was 
under a need to justify its past, and to a certain extent, to gain re- 
venge. 45 The Germans, in particular, were considered disloyal by 
the Yankees and other native American stock in two wars. Conse- 
quently, campaigns which seem to demonstrate that they were right 
and not disloyal would obviously win their support. The way in 
which one can understand the resentment against the UN and other 
international agencies is that these organizations are symbolic of 
American foreign policy and especially of the foreign policy of 
World War n, of collective security, of internationalism, of inter- 
ventionism; and thus the attack on UNESCO, the attack on the UN 
is an attack on the past, an attack on Roosevelt, an attack on our 
whole foreign policy from '33 on. 

The common tie which binds the former isolationist with the eco- 
nomic radical conservative is on the one hand the common enemy, 
Roosevelt and the New Deal, and secondly, the common scapegoat 
with which they can justify their past position. Both can now suggest 
that they were right, right in opposing the foreign policy or correct 
in opposing certain economic policies because these past policies 
were motivated or sustained by Communism or the Communist 
Party. Thus, both have an interest in magnifying the Communist 
plot, in identifying liberal and internationalist forces in American 
society with Communism. 

The Catholics 

A fifth source of mass support for the radical right in the recent 
period are many Catholics. As a rapidly rising group which was 
largely low status until recently, Catholics might be expected to be 
vulnerable to status-linked political appeals. In addition and prob- 
ably more significant, however, Catholics as a religious group are 
more prone to support anti-Communist movements than any other 
sect with the possible exception of the fundamentalist Protestant 

286 The Radical Right 

churches. 46 This predisposition derives from the long history of Cath- 
olic opposition to Socialism and Communism, an organized oppo- 
sition which has been perhaps more formalized in theological church 
terms than in almost any other group. This opposition has, in recent 
years, been magnified by the fact that a number of countries taken 
over by the Communists in eastern Europe are Catholic, and it is 
notable that in Europe those countries which are most in danger of 
Communist penetration are, in fact, Catholic. 

In the past, however, Catholics in the United States and other 
English-speaking countries, have been traditionally allied with more 
left-wing parties. For example, in Great Britain, Australia and New 
Zealand, the Catholics tend to support the Labor Party. In the 
United States, they have backed the Democratic Party, while in 
Canada they support the Liberal Party. 47 

The identification of Catholicism with the left in the English-speak- 
ing countries, as compared with its identification with the right in 
Western Europe, is related to the fact that the Catholic Church is a 
minority church in the English-speaking countries, and has been the 
church of the minority ethnic immigrants who have been largely 
lower class. As a lower-status group, Catholics have been success- 
fully appealed to by the out-party, by the party of the lower class. 

The rise of the Communist threat, however, and the identification 
of Communism with the left has created a conflict for many Catho- 
lics. Historically, this ideological conflict has developed just as the 
Catholic population in most of these countries has produced a siz- 
able upper and middle class of its own, which in economic terms 
is under pressure to abandon its traditional identification with the 
lower-class party. The Republican Party in the United States and the 
(conservative) Liberal Party in Australia as well, it is interesting to 
note, are now given an opportunity to break the Catholics from their 
traditional political mores. The conservatives face the problem in 
the era of the welfare state, that welfare politics obviously appeal 
to lower-class people. Consequently, for the conservatives to gain a 
majority (and here I speak not only of the radical right but of the 
moderate conservatives as well), they must have some issues which 
cut across class lines, and which can appeal to the lower classes 
against the party of that class. Traditionally, nationalism and foreign 
policy issues have been among the most successful means for the 
conservatives to break through class lines. In this specific case, if 
the conservatives can identify the left with Communism they may 

The Sources of the "Radical Righf1955 287 

gain the support of many Catholics, both lower and middle class. 
This combination of the party desire to win elections plus the 
general desire of conservatives to dominate the society has led them 
to adopt tactics which normally they would abhor. 

It may be appropriate to recall that the use of bigotry as a tactic 
by the conservatives to gain a political majority is not unknown in 
American history. The Whig Party before tie Civil War, faced with 
the fact that increased immigration, largely Catholic, was constantly 
adding to the votes of the Democratic Party, realized that they might 
never obtain a majority* (They were in much the same position as 
the Republican Party from 1932 to 1952.) The Whigs, led largely 
by the so-called aristocratic elements in American society, upper- 
class Protestants both north and south, supported mass movements 
which were anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, because of the belief 
that this would be the only way to win elections against the party of 
the "Demagogues," as they described the Democratic Party. 

The upper-class Whigs hoped to break lower-class white Protestants 
from their support of the Democratic Party by identifying that party 
with the immigrants and with -the Catholics. Today, of course, the 
position is reversed. The attempt is not so much to break Protes- 
tants from the Democrats, but to win the Catholics from the Dem- 
ocrats. The Republicans wish to break the Democratic allegiance 
of the Catholics, rather than use them as a scapegoat to secure 
lower-class Protestant voters. 48 

It is also interesting to note that, since liberal groups draw so 
much support from the Catholics, it is an exceedingly delicate matter 
for them to defend themselves against the charge that they once made 
common cause with the Communists. American liberals are under 
pressure to deny their past, rather than defend it. To admit that 
liberals ever had sympathy for the Soviet Union, or that they ever 
in any way collaborated with Communists would be akin to con- 
fession, at least so far as their Catholic supporters are concerned, 
of collaboration with the Devil. In order to defend itself and to retain 
its Catholic base, the liberal left must either outdo the right in Com- 
munist charges, or at least tacitly agree with it. It fears that a large 
part of its mass base agrees with the radical right on the Communist 
question. 49 

The introduction of a bill to outlaw the Communist Party by the 
most liberal members of the United States Senate is an example of 
this phenomenon. Many of them are vulnerable to the charge of 

288 The Radical Right 

Communist collaboration. Paul Douglas, as a Socialist, visited the 
Soviet Union, and was addressed as Comrade by Stalin. This interview 
was published by the Communist Party. Wayne Morse was strongly 
backed by Harry Bridges in his election to the United States Senate. 
Hubert Humphrey was elected to the Senate by the Democratic- 
Farmer-Labor Party, shortly after the Communists captured the old 
Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, and merged it with the Democratic 
Party of the state. None of these men ever supported the Commu- 
nist Party, or even has any record of fellow-traveling for a brief 
period. Nevertheless, facts such as these would be difficult to ex- 
plain without these men giving repeated evidence of their being 
strongly anti-Communist. 

The situation in the Catholic community, today, is similar to con- 
ditions in the Jewish community during the thirties. The Jews, con- 
cerned with the growth of Nazism, felt the need to do something 
about it. Nazism became an important political issue for them. This 
situation played into the hands of the Communists who used the 
fight against Nazism as their principal appeal. And it is a fact that 
the Communists had considerable success among the Jews in this 
period. 50 Perhaps even more important was the fact that -this in- 
fluence often affected the political ideology and tactics of Jewish 
organizations which were in no way Communist. 

Today the Catholics face the Communist issue as the Jews did 
Nazism. Even unscrupulous anti-Communism, the sort which is linked 
to motives and policies unrelated to the problem of fighting Com- 
munists, can win support within the Catholic community. And just 
as the Communists were able to press forward various other aspects 
of their ideology among the Jews in the 1930s, so the radical right, 
stressing the anti-Communist issue, is able to advance other parts of 
its program. The radical right uses the anti-Communist issue to create 
or sustain hostility among the Catholics against the New Deal, against 
social reform, at the same time identifying liberalism with Com- 

It is, therefore, impossible to analyze the impact of the radical 
right on American life without considering the vulnerability of the 
Catholics to the Communist issue, and the effect of this Catholic 
sensitivity on the political strategy of both Republican and Demo- 
cratic politicians in their reactions to the radical right. For politic 
reasons many existing analyses of the radical right have found it 
convenient to ignore the Catholics, and attempts have been made to 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 

interpret the problem in terms of other variables or concepts, some of 
which, like the minority ethnic's reaction to status deprivation, have 
been suggested in this chapter as well. While such processes are 
important, it should not be forgotten that the majority of Catholics 
is still proletarian, and not yet in a position to make claim to high 
status. The role of -the Catholic vulnerability to the radical right 
today, like the similar reaction of the Jews to the Communists a 
decade ago, must be considered independently of the fact that both 
groups have also reacted to the situation of being an ethnic minor- 
ity. 51 

The Catalytic Elements 

No analysis of the social strata and political tendencies which make 
up the radical right can be complete without a discussion of the 
catalytic elements, members of near Fascist and so-called borderline 
organizations, or individuals who though never members of such 
groups have maintained right-wing authoritarian sentiments. These 
groups and individuals have advocated extremist right-wing ideologies 
for a long time. Although their number may vary and their strength 
may fluctuate, they remain as a chronic source of potential extremist 
sentiments and organization. During the thirties, there were many 
avowedly authoritarian Fascist and racist organizations. Racism, at 
least in the form of anti-Semitism, lost much of its appeal during 
and following World War II. But while racism became even less 
useful politically than it ever had been, exposes of Communist plots, 
a traditional activity of most right-wing authoritarians, fitted in with 
the popular mood. It is probable that the neo-Fascist groups and 
individual authoritarians today use the Communist issue instead of 
anti-Semitism. 52 For many of them hunting Communists with the 
seeming approval of society is much more palatable than attacking 
Jews. Engaging in attacks on alleged Communists or subversives 
may now serve to enhance their status, while attacks on minority 
groups meant accepting the role of a political and social deviant. 

Here again, the analogy may be made with the role of the Com- 
munists in the late thirties and early forties. Being pro-New Deal 
and anti-Fascist, political values which were held by a large part 
of the population, made it psychologically much easier for Com- 
munists to operate than when they were primarily engaged in an 
avowed straggle for Communism. A number of former Communists 
have reported that many of the party members and leaders seemed 

590 The Radical Right 

much happier in this role in the late thirties and early forties than 
in their earlier phase as avowed revolutionaries. In this latter period, 
the Communist movement was much more effective in initiating cam- 
paigns which appealed to large sections of the population. 

While there is no right-wing conspiracy equivalent to that of the 
Communist Party (the various organizations and groups are disunited 
and often conflict with each other), nevertheless, there is an amor- 
phous radical right extremist movement which receives the support 
of many who are not open members of extremist organizations. These 
may be termed the fellow-travelers of the radical right. In sociological 
terms, these groups should come disproportionately from the cate- 
gories discussed earlier, that is, from the status-threatened or the 
status-aspiring, from the nouveaux riches, from the small business- 
man, from the ardent Catholics. However, it may be suggested that 
some of the research findings of studies such as the Authoritarian 
Personality are relevant in this context. The Authoritarian Per- 
sonality and similar studies suggest that for a certain undefined mi- 
nority of the population various personality frustrations and repres- 
sions result in the adoption of scapegoat sentiments. Such individuals 
are probably to be found disproportionately among the members of 
various patriotic and anti-Communist societies, in the crackpot ex- 
tremist groups, and significantly in the committees of various Com- 
munist-hunt groups, for example, in the un-American activities com- 
mittees of local Legion posts, and other groups. No one can object 
to people fighting Communists. If a minority in an organization de- 
nounces individual X or Y as a Communist, one may expect a 
general tendency for other members of the group to accept the charge 
in terms of their identification with the organization. Thus, with the 
climate of opinion shifted to the right, and with the Communist issue 
important to many people, that minority of individuals who for one 
reason or another feel the need to hunt out local subversive con- 
spirators will be supported by many individuals and groups, who 
left alone would rarely engage in such activities. 54 

One other group is important in the development of the radical 
right since World War II: the ex-Communists. Some of them, along 
with some other former non-Communist radicals, have given a coher- 
ent tone and ideology to the radical right. Basically, the radical 
right is unintellectual Its leaders know very little about Communism 
or international affairs, and as a matter of fact, have little interest 
in international affairs. The former radicals and Communists can 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 2 

pinpoint for the ideologists and spokesmen of the radical right those 
areas in American life where Communists have been important, 
those aspects of American foreign policy which are most vulnerable 
to attack. Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is to be 
found in The Freeman. Many of the writers for this magazine have 
been former leftists, such as James Burnham, William Schlamm, 
John Chamberlain, Ralph De Toledano, J. B. Matthews, Freda Utley, 
Eugene Lyons, John T. Flynn, George Schuyler, and Charlotte 

Before concluding this review of general tendencies, one interesting 
and important contradiction between radical right ideology in the 
United States and the consequences of its promulgation should be 
stressed. Most of the intellectual and political spokesmen of the 
radical right proclaim a belief in complete liberty for all. The Freeman 
reads like a philosophical anarchist magazine. Its present editor, 
Frank Chodorov, has proclaimed the libertarian gospel in two recent 
books, One Is a Crowd, and The Income Tax: Root of All Evil. 
The New Deal is often denounced for having endangered civil lib- 
erties and individual freedom by increasing the power of the state 
and trade unions. Many of the speakers at the November 29, 1954 
Madison Square Garden rally to protest the Senate censure of 
Senator McCarthy demanded the preservation of a "government of 
limited powers." Writers for The Freeman often criticized the tariff. 
Basically, the ideology of extreme conservatism in this country is 
laissez-faire. McCarthy's young intellectual spokesman, William 
Buckley, strongly supported the doctrines of Adam Smith in the same 
book in which he demanded a purge of American university faculties 
of left-wingers. 55 In a real sense, the radical right is led by the 
Frondists of American society, those who want to turn the clock back 
to a golden age of little government 

McCarthyism: The Unifying Ideology 

Extreme conservatism cannot ever hope to create a successful 
mass movement on the basis of its socio-economic program alone. 
Except during significant economic crisis, the majority of the tradi- 
tional middle- and upper-class conservative elements are not likely 
to support extremist movements and ideologies, even when presented 
in the guise of conservatism, and the lower classes do not support 

192 The Radical Right 

movements in defense of privilege. The problem of the radical right 
is to develop a political philosophy which will have appeal to its 
traditional rightist support, but will also enable it to win a mass base. 
Nazism was able to do this in Germany by combining a strong 
nationalist appeal to the status-threatened German middle and upper 
class, together with an "attack on Jewish international capitalism" 
designed to win over those most concerned with economic reform. 
As a number of European political commentators have suggested, 
anti-Semitism has often been the extreme rightist equivalent for 
the Socialist attack on capitalism. The Jewish banker replaces the 
exploiting capitalist as the scapegoat. 

In the United States, the radical right had to find some comparable 
method of appealing to the groups which have a sense of being 
underprivileged, and McCarthy's principal contribution to the crys- 
tallization of the radical right in the 1950s has been to locate the 
key symbols with which to unite all its potential supporters. 57 Mc- 
Carthy's crusade is not just against the liberal elements of the country, 
cast in the guise of "creeping Socialist"; he is also campaigning 
against the same groups midwest Populism always opposed, the 
Eastern conservative financial aristocracy. In his famous Wheeling, 
West Virginia speech of February 9, 1950, McCarthy began his 
crusade against internal Communism by presenting for the first 
time an image of the internal enemy: 

The reason why we find ourselves hi a position of impotency is not 
because our only potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but 
rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated 
so well by this nation. It is not the less fortunate, or members of mi- 
nority groups who have been selling this nation out, but rather those 
who have had all the benefits the wealthiest nation on earth has had to 
offer the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs 
in the government that we can give. This is glaringly true in the State 
Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons 
in their mouth are the ones who have been worse. 53 

This defense of the minority groups and the underprivileged, and 
the attack on the upper class has characterized the speeches and 
writings of McCarthy and his followers. McCarthy differs considerably 
from earlier extreme right-wing anti-Communists. He is rarely inter- 
ested in investigating or publicizing the activities of men who belong 
to minority ethnic groups. The image of the Communist which recurs 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 293 

time and again in his speeches is one of an easterner, usually of 
Anglo-Saxon Episcopalian origins, who has been educated in schools 
such as Groton and Harvard. 

The attack on the elite recurs frequently in the current writings 
of the radical right. TheJFreeman magazine writes that "Asian coolies 
and Harvard professors are the people . . . most susceptible to 
Red propaganda." 59 Facts Forum describes intellectuals as the group 
most vulnerable to Communism, and defines intellectuals as, "lawyers, 
doctors, bankers, teachers, professors, preachers, writers, publish- 
ers." 60 In discussing the Hiss case, Facts Forum argued that the 
forces defending Hiss which were most significant were not the Com- 
munists, themselves, but "the American respectables, the socially 
pedigreed, the culturally acceptable, the certified gentlemen and 
scholars of the day, dripping with college degrees. ... In general, 
it was the 'best people' who were for Alger Hiss." 61 In discussing 
McCarthy's enemies, The Freeman stated: "He possesses, it seems 
a sort of animal, negative-pole magnetism which repels alumni of 
Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. And we think we know what it is: 
This young man is constitutionally incapable of deference to social 
status" 2 

Over and over again runs the theme, the common men in America 
have been victimized by members of the upper classes, by the pros- 
perous, by 'the wealthy, by the well educated. When specific names 
are given, these are almost invariably individuals whose names and 
backgrounds permit them to be identified with symbols of high status. 
As McCarthy could attack other individuals and groups, this con- 
centration on the Anglo-Saxon elite is no accident. What are the 
purposes it serves? 

Since McCarthy comes from Wisconsin, where for forty years 
isolationism and attacks on eastern business and Wall Street were 
staple political fare, he may have been searching for an equivalent 
to the La Follette appeal. Much of the electorate of Wisconsin, and 
other sections of the Midwest, the German-Americans and those 
who were sympathetic to their isolationist viewpoint, have been smart- 
ing under the charge of disloyalty. McCarthy has argued that it was 
not the isolationists, but rather those who favored our entry into 
war with Germany who were the real traitors, since by backing Great 
Britain they had played into the hands of the Soviet Union. The 
linkage between the attacks on Anglo-Saxon Americans and Great 
Britain may be seen in McCarthy's infrequent speeches on foreign 

294 The Radical Right 

policy; these invariably wind up with an attack on Great Britain, 
sometimes with a demand for action (such as economic sanctions, or 
pressure to prevent her from trading with Red China) , 63 Thus Mc- 
Carthy is in fact attacking the same groups in the United States and 
on the world scene, as Ms liberal predecessors. 

On the national scene, McCarthy's attacks are probably much 
more important in terms of their appeal to status frustrations than 
to resentful isolationism. In the identification of traditional symbols 
of status with pro-Communism the McCarthy followers, of non- 
Anglo-Saxon extraction, can gain a feeling of superiority over the 
traditionally privileged groups. Here is a prosperity-born equivalent 
for the economic radicalism of depressions. For the resentment 
created by prosperity is basically not against the economic power of 
Wall Street bankers, or Yankees, but against their status power. An 
attack on their loyalty, on their Americanism, is clearly also an 
attack on their status. And this group not only rejects the status 
claims of the minority ethnics, but also snubs the nouveaux riches 

The celebrated Army-McCarthy hearings vividly presented to a 
national television audience the differences between the McCarthyites 
and their moderate Republican opponents. Every member of Mc- 
Carthy's staff who appeared on television, with but one exception, 
was either Catholic, Jewish or Greek Orthodox in religion, and Ital- 
ian, Greek, Irish, or Jewish in national origin. The non-military 
spokesmen of the Eisenhower administration on the other hand were 
largely wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestants. In a real sense, this 
televised battle was between successfully mobile minority ethnics and, 
in the main, upper-class Anglo-Saxon Protestants, 

It is also interesting to note that McCarthy is probably the first 
extreme rightist politician in America to rely heavily on a number of 
Jewish advisors. These include George Sokolsky, the Hearst colum- 
nist, Alfred Kohlberg, a Far-Eastern exporter, and of course, his for- 
mer counsel, Roy Cohn. (These Jewish McCarthyites are, however, 
unrepresentative of the Jewish population generally, even of its upper 
strata, since all survey data as well as impressionistic evidence indi- 
cate that the large majority of American Jews are liberal on both 
economic and civil liberties issues.) 

An attack on the status system could conceivably antagonize 
groups within the radical right: such as the patriotic societies, the 
Daughters of the American Revolution, and members of old upper- 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 295 

status families like Archibald Roosevelt, who chaired a testimonial 
dinner for Roy Cohn. Yet, attacks on the Anglo-Saxon Yankee 
scapegoat do not have this effect because they are directed against 
majority elements in the society. Criticism of Jews or the Irish, or 
Italians or Negroes, would have resulted in an immediate response 
from members of the attacked group. Anglo-Saxon white Protestants, 
as a majority group, however, are not sensitive to criticism, they 
are not vulnerable to being attacked, nor do they expect attack. 
McCarthy, on the one hand, can throw out symbols and images 
which appeal to the minority ethnics, to the Germans, to the Irish, 
and the Italians, without at the same time securing the hostility 
of radical rightists who also are members of the D.A.R., the Sons of 
the American Revolution, the Patriotic Dames or any other compa- 
rable group. 64 And in spite of his populist-type symbols, he can 
retain the support of these groups and the cooperation of some big 
businessmen. This is his peculiar power. To the status-deprived he is 
a critic of the upper class; to the privEeged, he is a foe of social 
change and Communism. 

Anti-Communism: The Weakness of a Single Issue 

In spite of its early successes in intimidating opponents, and gaining 
widespread support behind some of its leaders, the radical right has 
not succeeded in building even one organization of any political 
significance. And without organizing its backing, it cannot hope to 
secure any lasting power. This failure is not accidental, or a result 
of inept leadership, but stems from the fact rather that the only 
political issue which unites the various supporters of radical right 
politicians is anti-Communism. 65 It is only at the leadership level 
that agreement exists on a program for domestic and foreign policy. 
The mass base, however, is far from united on various issues. For 
example, as McCarthy well knows, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin 
want the government to guarantee 100 per cent parity prices. But 
this policy is an example of government regimentation to some of the 
extremist elements on his side. 

The Catholic working class remains committed to the economic 
objectives of the New Deal, and still belongs to trade unions. While 
McCarthy and other radical rightists may gain Catholic support for 
measures which are presented under the guise of fighting Communism, 
they will lose it on economic issues. And should economic issues 
become important again as during a recession, much of the popular 

296 The Radical Right 

support for McCarthyism will fall away. As a result any attempt 
to build a radical right movement which has a complete political 
program is risky, and probably will not occur. 

The radical right also faces the problem that it unites bigots of 
different varieties. In the South and other parts of the country, 
fundamentalist Protestant groups which are anti-Semitic and anti- 
Catholic back the radical right in spite of the fact that McCarthy is 
a Catholic. 

One illustration of the way in which these contradictions among 
his supporters can cause difficulty is a statement which appeared in 
the New York Journal-American: "I think Joe owes the Army an 
apology but I doubt if our soldiers will get it. The Senator has 
sure lost his touch since he took up with those oil-rich, anti-Catholic 
Texas millionaires. They are the very same gang which threw the 
shiv at Al Smith back in 1928." 66 

Perhaps the greatest threat to the political fortunes of the radical 
right has been the victory of Eisenhower in 1952. As long as the 
Republican Party was in opposition the radical right could depend 
upon covert support, or at worst, neutrality from most of the moder- 
ate conservative sections of the Republican Party. Even when they 
viewed the methods of the radical right with distaste, the party leader- 
ship saw the group as potential vote gainers. The frustration of 
twenty years in opposition reduced the scruples of many Republicans, 
especially those who were involved in party politics. 

The differences between the radical right and the moderate right 
are evident indeed and open factionalism existed in the party long 
before the election of Eisenhower. Nevertheless, the evidence is 
quite clear that a large proportion, if not the majority of the moderate 
Republicans, did not view McCarthy or the radical right as a menace 
to the party, until he began his attack upon them. Walter Lippmann 
once persuasively argued that when the Republicans were in office 
they would be able to control the radical right, or that the radical 
right would conform for the sake of party welfare. Most Republicans 
probably at the time agreed. However, the program of Eisenhower 
Republicanism has not been one of turning the clock back, nor has 
it fed the psychic needs of the radical right in domestic or foreign 
policy. Eisenhower's policies in the White House have certainly not 
reduced the needs of radical right groups for political action, for 
scapegoatism. They have not reduced McCarthy's desires to capitalize 
upon popular issues to maintain power and prestige in the general 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 297 

body politic. As a result, the radical right is now forced to straggle 
openly with the moderate conservatives, essentially the Eisenhower 
Republicans, who in large measure represent established big busi- 
ness. 67 This is a fight it cannot hope to win, but the danger exists 
that the moderates in their efforts to resist charges of softness to 
Communism, or simply to defeat the Democrats, will take over some 
of the issues of the radical right, in order to hold its followers, 
while destroying the political influence of its leaders. 

The development of open warfare between the moderate Re- 
publican, high status, and big business groups on one hand, and 
McCarthy and the radical rightists on the other, has probably rep- 
resented the turning point in the power of the latter. Thirty years 
earlier, the Ku Klux Elan was severely crippled by the emerging 
antagonism of the traditional power groups. As was pointed out 
earlier, many of its middle-class members dropped out of the organi- 
zation when they discovered that such membership would adversely 
affect their status and economic interest. Today as in 1923-24, the 
moderate conservative upper-class community has finaEy been aroused 
to the threat to its position and values represented by the radical 
right. 68 

It is extremely doubtful that the radical right will grow beyond the 
peak of 1953-54. It has reached its optimum strength in a period 
of prosperity, and a recession will probably cripple its political power. 
It cannot build an organized movement. Its principal current signifi- 
cance, and perhaps permanent impact on the American scene, lies 
in its success in overstimulating popular reaction to the problem of 
internal subversion, in supplying the impetus for changes which may 
have lasting effects on American life, e.g., the heightened security 
program, political controls on passports, political tests for school- 
teachers, and increasing lack of respect for an understanding of the 
Constitutional guarantees of civil and juridical rights for unpopular 
minorities and scoundrels. 

It is important, however, not to exaggerate the causal influence 
of the radical right on the development of restrictions on civil liberties 
in American life. More significant than the activities of any group of 
active extremists are the factors in the total political situation which 
made Americans fearful of Communism. Perhaps most important 
of all these is the fact that for the first time since the War of 1812, 
the United States has been faced with a major foreign enemy before 
whom it has had to retreat. The loss of eastern Europe, of China, the 

298 The Radical Right 

impasse in Korea, Indo-China and Formosa, the seeming fiasco of 
our post-war foreign policy, have required an explanation* The theory 
that these events occurred because we were "stabbed in the back" by 
a "hidden force" is much more palatable than admitting the possibil- 
ity that the Communists have stronger political assets than we do. 
The fear and impotence forced on us by the impossibility of a 
nuclear war requires some outlet. And a hunt for the internal con- 
spirators may appear as one positive action. Political extremists are 
capitalizing on our doubts and fears, but it is the situation which 
creates these doubts and fears, rather than the extremists, that is 
mainly responsible for the lack of resistance by the political moderate. 
Every major war in American history has brought with it important 
restrictions on civil liberties. Recognition of this fact has often led 
Americans who were primarily concerned with the preservation of 
civil liberties to oppose our entry into war. Before World War II, 
such ardent anti-Fascists as Robert Hutchins and Norman Thomas 
opposed an interventionist policy, on the grounds that entry into a 
prolonged major war might result in the destruction of American 
democracy. History fortunately records the fact that they were 
mistaken. The current situation, however, is obviously more threaten- 
ing than any previous one, for one can see no immediate way for 
the United States to win the fight against Communism. And we 
now face the serious danger that a prolonged cold war may result 
in the institutionalization of many of the current restrictions on 
personal freedom which have either been written into law, or have 
become normal government administration procedure. Those who 
regard extremist anti-civil libertarian phases of American history as 
temporary and unimportant in long-range terms should be cautioned 
that one of the consequences of the Ku Klux Klan and the post- 
World War I wave of anti-radical and anti-foreigner hysteria was 
the restrictive immigration laws based on racist assumptions. The 
Klan died and the anti-radical hysteria subsided, but the quota re- 
strictions based on the assumption of Nordic supremacy remained. 
Clearly the recent defeat of Senator McCarthy and the seeming 
decline of radical right support have not resulted in an end or 
even modification of many of the measures and administrative pro- 
cedures which were initiated in response to radical right activity. 
Consequently if the cold war continues, the radical right, although 
organizationally weak, may play an important role in changing the 
character of American democracy. 69 

Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 299 

intellectual sources of this paper are far more numerous than the 
footnote references acknowledge. In particular, I am indebted to Richard 
Hofstadter, whose "The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt" forms Chapter 3 of 
this volume, and Imxnanuel WaUerstein's "McCarthyism and the Conserva- 
tive" (M.A. thesis in the Department of Sociology, Columbia University, 
1954). This paper is Publication No. A169 of the Bureau of Applied Social 
Research, Columbia University, one of a series prepared for the Fund for the 

2 1 do not assert that every or even most individuals or groups I classify in 
the radical right are involved in, or sympathetic to efforts to reduce personal 
freedom. In fact, as is made clear later in this paper, the ideology of the 
radical right is a belief in as much laissez-faire as possible. Most supporters 
of radical right politics believe that they are helping to increase democratic 
rights for everyone. The point is, however, that the nature of their attacks 
on political opponents, the definition they make of liberal or left politics as 
illegitimate, un-American, creeping socialism, fellow-traveling or worse, does 
have the consequence of encouraging the denial of civil liberties to their 
political opponents. 

3 For a discussion of class and status politics in another context see, S. M. 
Lipset and R. Bendix, "Social Status and Social Structure," British Journal 
of Sociology, n (1951), especially pp. 230-33. Similar concepts are used by 
Richard Hofstadter in Chapter 3. 

4 It is important to note that scapegoat and ethnic prejudice politics have 
not been exclusively the tactic of prosperity-based movements. Anti-Semitic 
movements, in particular, have also emerged during depressions. The Populist 
movement and Father Coughlin's National Union for Social Justice are per- 
haps two of the most significant ones. It should be noted, however, that both 
of these movements focused primarily on proposed solutions to economic 
problems rather than racism. Initially, these groups were concerned with 
solving economic problems by taking away control of the credit system from 
the private bankers. Anti-Semitism emerged in both as a means of symboliz- 
ing their attack on eastern or international financiers. It is interesting to note 
that many movements which center their explanation of the cause for depres- 
sions on the credit system often wind up attacking the Jews. The Social 
Credit movement is the most recent example of this pattern. Apparently the 
underlying cultural identification of the international financier with the inter- 
national Jew is too strong for these groups to resist. In each case, however, 
Populism, Coughlinism, and Social Credit, the economic program preceded 

5 Historians have traditionally explained the decline of the Know-Nothings 
as a result of their inability to take a firm position on the slavery issue. 
Recent research, however, suggests that the depression may have been even 
more important than the slavery agitation. Detailed study of pre-Civil War 
electoral behavior indicates that the slavery issue played a minor role in 
determining shifts from one party to another. Evidence for these statements 
will be found in a forthcoming monograph by Lee Benson of the Bureau of 
Applied Social Research, Columbia University. 

6 Humphrey J. Desmond, The AJPA. Movement (Washington: The New 
Century Press, 1912), pp. 9-10. 

7 While the A.P.A. arose and won strength in a prosperous era, it continued 
to grow during the depression of 1893. Gustavus Myers, however, suggests 
that one of the major reasons for its rapid decline in the following two or 
three years was the fact that many of its leaders and members became actively 

300 The Radical Right 

involved in the class politics which grew out of this depression. That is, 
many A.P.A.ers either joined the Bryan movement or actively supported 
McKinley, depending on their socio-economic position. Thus, the decline of 
the A.P.A., also, may be laid in large part to the fact that a depression 
accentuates economic issues and makes status concerns less important. 

See Gustavus Myers, History of Bigotry in the United States (New York: 
Random House, 1943), pp. 244-45. 
8 R. Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955). 

9 Quantitative evidence which fits in with this interpretation of the Progressive 
movement may be found in an unpublished paper, "The Genteel Revolt 
Against Politics A study of the New York State Progressive Party in 1912," 
by Richard Ravitch. He summed up his statistical analysis as follows: 

"It would be wrong to assume that the Progressives were anti-Catholic, but 
it was unusual for a political party in New York to have only one Catholic 
in its midst. Several Bull Mooses [Progressives] had belonged to the Guard- 
ians of Liberty, an organization which attacked the Church; but they with- 
drew to avoid the political repercussions. Certainly it can be said that the 
overwhelming religious affiliation was that of the Conservative [high status] 
Protestant sects. 

"They were men conspicuous for their lack of association with the two 
groups which were slowly becoming the dominant forces in American life 
the industrialist and the union leader. They were part of an older group 
which was losing the high status and prestige once held in American society. 
The Progressives represented the middle-class of the nineteenth century with 
all its emphasis on individualism and a set of values that was basically pro- 
vincial. Resenting the encroachment on 'his 1 America by the corporations 
and urban masses, the formation of the Progressive Party may be considered 
his way of protesting what was now his defensive position in the bewildering 
'drift' which characterized 20th-century society." 

Evidence that anti-Catholic sentiment was strong during the pre-World 
War I prosperity may also be adduced from the fact that a leading anti- 
Catholic paper, The Menace, had a circulation of 1,400,000 in 1914. 

Emerson H. Loucks, The Ku Klux Klan in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania: The Telegraph Press, 1936), p. 16. 

10 This discussion is based largely on an unpublished paper by Nathan Glazer. 
For documentation of the various points made here see John Moffat Mecklin, 
The Ku Klux Klan: A Study of the American Mind (New York: Harcourt 
Brace and Co., 1924); E. H. Loucks, op. cit.; Henry Fry Peck, The Modern 
Ku Klux Klan (Boston: Small, Maynard and Co., 1922); Frank Bohn, "The 
Ku Klux Klan Interpreted," American Journal of Sociology, January 1925, 
pp. 385-407. 

11 It is interesting to note in this connection that much of the earlier extremist 
agitation also dealt with supposed plots of foreign agents. For example, the 
agitation leading to the Alien and Sedition Acts before 1800, the anti-Catholic 
movements, all involved claims that agents of a foreign power or of the 
Pope sought to subvert American life and institutions. The leaders of these 
movements all argued that men with loyalties to foreign institutions had no 
claim to civil liberties in America. "Can a Romanist be a good citizen of 
America . . . ? Romanism is a political system as a political power it 
must be met. . . . No ballot for the man who takes his politics from the 
Vatican." Reverend James B. Dunn, leader of the A.P.A. quoted in Myers, 
op. cit., p. 227. (Emphasis in Myers.) 

The present situation, of course, differs from these past ones in that there 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 301 

is a foreign directed conspiracy, the Communist Party. But today, as in the 
past, the new right seeks to link native, non-Communist expression of dissent 
to foreign powers as well. 

12 Morton Grodzins, Americans Betrayed, Politics and the Japanese Evacua- 
tion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949). 

13 See Herbert Hyman and Paul Sheatsley, "Trends in Public Opinion on 
Civil Liberties," Journal of Social Issues, DC (1953), No. 3, pp. 6-17. 

14 Samuel A. Stouffer, Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties (New 
York: Doubleday and Co., 1955), p. 32-33; see the summary and discussion 
of his findings in Chapter 6. 

^Ibid., pp. 28-31. 
i*lbid., pp. 39-46. 

17 David Riesman has suggested that the factors sustaining extreme moralism 
in American life are declining as more and more Americans are becoming 
"other-oriented," more concerned with being liked than being right. While 
Riesman's distinction between inner-oriented and other-oriented people is use- 
ful for analytical purposes, I still believe that viewed cross-culturally, Ameri- 
cans are more likely to view politics in moralistic terms than most Europeans. 
No American politician would say of an ally, as did Churchill of Russia, 
that I will ally with the "devil, himself," for the sake of victory. The Ameri- 
can alliance with Russia had to be an alliance with a "democrat" even if the 
ally did not know he was democratic. Both the liberal reaction to the possi- 
bility of alliance with Chiang Kai-shek and Franco, and the conservative 
reaction to recognition of Communist China are but the latest examples of 
the difficulty which morality creates for our international diplomacy. See 
David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 
1950), for a discussion of the decline of such morality; and George Kennan, 
American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 (New York: New American Library, 1952). 
Gabriel A. Almond, The American People and Foreign Policy (New York: 
Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1950), Ch. HI, "American Character and 
Foreign Policy"; Raymond Aron, The Century of Total War (London: 
Derek Verschoyle, 1954), pp. 103-4, for analysis of the way in which 
morality in politics hampers our foreign policy. 

is See Will Herberg, "Government by Rabble-Rousing," The New Leader, 
January 18, 1954. 

19 It is true, of course, that there has been an alternative nationalist reaction, 
such as Zionism among the Jews, the Garvey movement among the Negroes, 
and identification with national societies among other groups. In large meas- 
ure, however, these patterns have been the reaction of lower-status, usually 
foreign-born members of immigrant groups. Once assimilated, and accepted, 
immigrant groups often adopt the so-called "third generation" pattern in 
which they attempt to re-identify with their past national traditions. While 
this pattern would seem to conflict with assumption that conformity is the 
norm, I would suggest that it fits into the needs of individuals in a mass 
urban culture to find symbols of belongingness which are smaller than the 
total society. 

20 Churchill made this statement in the House, in defending his refusal to 
declare the Communist Party, then opposed to the war, illegal, 

21 See Leon Samson, Toward a United Front (New York: Farrar and Rine- 
hart, 1933). 

22 For further comments on this theme see S. M. Lipset, "Democracy in 
Alberta," The Canadian Forum, November and December 1954, pp. 175- 
77, 196-98. 

302 The Radical Right 

23 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (London: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1946), pp. 376-81. 

24 Arnold Rose, "Voluntary Associations in France," in Theory and Method 
in the Social Sciences (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1954), 
pp. 72-115. Mass Observation, Puzzled People (London: Victor Gollancz, 
1947), pp. 119-22. 

2J 5 S. D. Clark, 'The Frontier and Democratic Theory," Transactions of the 
Royal Society of Canada, XLW, IE, June 1954, p. 72. 
26 That this is somewhat legitimate may be seen by analyzing the social bases 
of support of these totalitarian movements. In general, Communists, where 
strong, receive support from the same social strata which vote for democratic 
socialist or liberal groups in countries with weak Communist movements. 
Conversely, Fascist and right authoritarians, such as De Gaulle, have received 
their backing from previous supporters of conservative parties. There is little 
evidence of an authoritarian appeal per se. Rather, it would seem that under 
certain conditions part of the conservative group will become Fascists, while 
under others, part of the support of the democratic left will support the 
Communists. See S, M. Lipset, et al, "Psychology of Voting," in Gardner 
Lindzey, ed., Handbook of Social Psychology (Cambridge: Addison Wesley, 
1954), pp. 1135-36. 

2T For a discussion of the way in which the radical right systematically 
attacks the Brahmin upper class in the State Department, see pp. 210-11 of 
this essay. Even as late as 1952, the left-wing journalist I. F. Stone attempted 
to bolster his attack on American policy in Korea by calh'ng attention to the 
fact "that Acheson on making his Washington debut at the Treasury before 
the war, had been denounced by New Dealers as a 'Morgan man,' a Wall 
Street Trojan Horse, a borer-from-within on behalf of the big bankers." 
I. F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War (New York: Monthly 
Review Press, 1952), p. 204. 

It should be noted that, insofar as education at Harvard, Yale or Prince- 
ton is an indicator of upper-class background, the extremist critics of the 
State Department are correct in their claim that persons with a high-status 
background are disproportionately represented in the State Department. A 
study of 820 Foreign Office Officers indicated that 27 per cent of them 
graduated from these institutions, while only 14 per cent of high-ranking 
civil servants in other departments had similar collegiate backgrounds. (R. 
Bendix, Higher Civil Servants in American Society [Boulder: University of 
Colorado Press, 1949] pp. 92-93.) 

Some evidence that elite background is even of greater significance in the 
higher echelons of the State Department may be found in a recent article 
published in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin: 

"The new United States Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany 
(James B. Conant, Harvard '14, and former president of the University) will 
find, if he looks about him, fellow alumni in comparable positions. Across 
the border to the south and west, the Belgian ambassador is Frederick M. 
Alger, Jr. '30, and the French ambassador is C. Douglas Dillon, '31. Down 
the Iberian Peninsula the ambassadors to Spain and Portugal are John D. 
Lodge '25, and James C. H. Bonbright '25. A bit to the north, Ambassador 
Conant will find Ambassador Robert D. Coe '23 in Denmark and John M. 
Cabot '23 in Sweden. In the forbidden land to the east of him is Charles 
E. Bohlen '27, Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. Near at hand, across the Chan- 
nel, is the senior member of Harvard's ambassadorial galaxy, Winthrop 
W. Aldrich '07, LL.D. '53, Ambassador to Great Britain. . . . There seem 

The Sources of the "Radical Right' 1955 303 

to be enough Harvard ambassadors for a baseball team in Europe. . . .** 
("Ambassadors" in Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 57, May 21, 1955, p. 617.) 

28 Edna Lonergan, "Anatomy of the PAC," The Freeman, November 27, 1950, 
pp. 137-39. 

29 A good example of extreme right ideology is contained in the newspaper 
report of a speech delivered at a meeting of Alliance, Inc., a right-wing 
group sponsored by Archibald Roosevelt: 

"Gov. J. Bracken Lee of Utah declared last night that We have in Wash- 
ington what to my mind amounts to a dictatorship.* 

"Asserting that high spending was heading the country toward poverty, 
he ... [said] that the end result of all dictatorships was the same. 'They 
end up with a ruling class and all the rest of us are peons.' . . . 

"There was no difference, he continued, between the Government in Russia 
and an all powerful central government in Washington. . . . 

". . . all the trouble in Washington began when a constitutional amend- 
ment authorized the income tax. He assailed the United Nations, foreign 
aid and Federal grants to the states. 

"He appealed to those who felt the way he did c to speak up now. 9 When 
a voice in the audience asked, 'How,' he replied: *tf you feel that McCarthy's 
on our side say so.' This reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wis- 
consin evoked applause, cheers and whistles." 

See. "Governor of Utah Sees Dictatorship," New York Times, February 18, 
1955, p. 19. 

For a description of the ideology of the radical right, or as he calls them, 
the ultra-conservatives, see Clinton Rossiter, Conservatism in America (New 
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955), pp. 183-S6. 

80 One hypothesis which may explain the subsequent bitterness of some of 
the former liberals and leftists who broke with Roosevelt over his foreign 
policies is contained in a defense of the Moscow trials of the 1930s written by 
John T. Flynn in his more leftist days. 

"Americans found it difficult to believe that the old Bolsheviks recently 
executed in Russia, after all their years of warfare against capitalism, could 
have been really guilty of intriguing with Italy and Germany to destroy 
Stalin. That seemed unbelievable. This incredulity struck me as possible only 
by ignoring the strange distance which the human mind and heart can lead a 
man of strong feeling when they begin to generate hatreds. Now we have a 
weird case of it in our own far more composed country. Would anyone have 
believed, four years ago for instance, that in 1937 we would behold John 
Frey, of the A.F.L. as fine a person as one would care to meet actually 
consorting with a company union in steel to defeat and destroy a singularly 
successful industrial union movement led by John L. Lewis? Yet this fantastic 
thing has occurred. It is no stranger than a Russian editor full of hatred of 
Stalin seeking to circumvent that gentleman's plans by teaming up for the 
moment with Hitler." New Republic, March 24, 1937, pp. 209-10 (my 

31 It is worth noting that existing evidence suggests that there is a substantial 
difference in the reactions of men and women to the radical right. Women 
are much more likely to support repressive measures against Communists 
and other deviant groups than are men as measured by poll responses, and 
many of the organizations which are active in local struggles to intimidate 
school and library boards are women's groups. In part this difference may 
be related to the fact that women are more explicitly concerned with family 
status in the community than are men in the American culture, and hence, 

304 The Radical Right 

may react more than the men do to status anxieties or frustrations. The 
organizations of old family Americans which are concerned with claiming 
status from the past are predominantly female. Hence, if the thesis that status 
concerns are related to rightist extremism and bigotry is valid, one would 
expect to find more women than men affected by it. 

Secondly, however, evidence from election and opinion studies in a num- 
ber of countries indicates that women are more prone to be concerned with 
morality in politics. They are much more likely to support prohibition of 
liquor or gambling, or to vote against corrupt politicians than men. This 
concern with morality seems to be related to the greater participation in 
religious activities by the female sex. Since Communism has come to be 
identified as a moral crusade against evil by every section of American public 
opinion, one should expect that women will be more likely to favor sup- 
pression of evil, much as they favor suppression of liquor and gambling. The 
propensity to support efforts to repress "corrupt ideas" is probably intensified 
by the fact that much of the concern with the activities of Communists is 
related to their potential effect on the young. See H. Tingsten, Political 
Behavior: Studies in Election Statistics (London: P. S. King, 1937), pp. 36- 
75 for a report of comparative data on women's attitudes and political be- 
havior. In the 1952 Presidential election in the United States, more women 
voted Republican than Democratic for the first time in many years. It has 
been suggested that this was a product of the raising of strong moral issues 
by the Republicans. See L. Harris, Is There a Republican Majority? (New 
York: Harper & Brothers, 1954), Chapter VI. 

The recent Stouffer study of attitudes toward civil liberties further tends 
to validate these inferences. The data indicate clearly that in 1954 women 
were much more intolerant of Communists, critics of religion, and advocates 
of nationalized industry than men. Similarly, presidents of women's clubs 
were less tolerant than any other group of community leaders interviewed 
with the exception of officers of the D.A.R. and the American Legion. (See 
S. A. Stouffer, op. cit. r pp. 131-55, 52.) Part of the difference in attitudes 
between men and women reported in this study is accounted for by the fact 
that women are more religious than men, and religious people are more 
likely to be intolerant than the non-religious. However, even when religious 
participation is held constant, women are more likely to be intolerant than 
are men. I would suggest that part of this difference is related to the fact 
that women are more likely than men to reflect the political concerns derived 
from status. Unfortunately, the Stouffer study does not attempt to measure 
the effect of status concerns on political beliefs. For an excellent study which 
does attempt to do this in the context of analyzing the electoral support of 
British political parties see Mark Benney and Phyllis Geiss, "Social Class 
and Politics in Greenwich," British Journal of Sociology, 1950, Vol. I, pp. 
310-24. The authors of this study found that women were more likely to 
report themselves in a higher social class than men at the same occupational 
level, and those who reported themselves to be higher status were more con- 

32 For an excellent description of the reactions of the Boston Brahmins to 
the Irish, see Cleveland Amory, The Proper Bostonians (New York: E. P. 
Button and Company, 1947), p. 346. 

33 In an article written shortly before his death, Franz Neumann suggested 
that one of the social sources of political anxiety which led to individuals 
and groups accepting a conspiracy theory of politics is social mobility: 

"In every society that is composed of antagonistic groups there is an 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 305 

ascent and descent of groups. It is my contention that persecutory anxiety 
but one that has a real basis is produced when a group is threatened in 
its prestige, income, or its existence. . . . 

"The fear of social degradation thus creates for itself *a target for the 
discharge of the resentments arising from damaged self-esteem.* . . . 

"Hatred, resentment, dread, created by great upheavals, are concentrated 
on certain persons, who are denounced as devilish conspirators. Nothing 
would be more incorrect than to characterize the enemies as scapegoats, for 
they appear as genuine enemies whom one must extirpate and not as sub- 
stitutes whom one only needs to send into the wilderness. The danger con- 
sists in the fact that this view of history is never completely false, but 
always contains a kernel of truth and, indeed, must contain it, if it is to 
have a convincing effect." 

Franz 5 L. Neumann, "Anxiety in Politics,** Dissent, Spring 1955, pp. 141, 
139, 135. 

34 One study of McCarthy's appeal indicates that, among Protestants, lie 
gets much more support from persons of non-Anglo-Saxon ancestry than 
from those whose forefathers came from Britain. The polls are not refined 
enough to locate old Americans who support patriotic organizations, but the 
activities of groups which belong to the Coalition of Patriotic Societies are 
what would be expected in terms of the logic of this analysis. See Wallerstein, 
op. cit. 

35 These observations about the nouveaux riches are, of course, not new or 
limited to current American politics. William Cobbett commented in 1827 : 

**. . . this hatred to the cause of public liberty is, I am sorry to say it, 
but too common amongst merchants, great manufacturers, and great farmers; 
especially those who have risen suddenly from the dunghill to chariot." 

G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, eds., The Opinions of William Cobbett 
(London: The Cobbett Publishing Co., 1944), pp. 86-87; see also Walter 
Weyl, The New Democracy, (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1912), pp. 
242-43 for similar comments on the American nouveaux riches, in the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

ss See S. M. Lipset and Reinhard Bendix, "Social Mobility and Occupational 
Career Patterns EL Social Mobility," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 
LVH (March 1952), pp. 494-504. 

37 Again, poll data fit this hypothesis. Material from a 1952 Roper poll 
shows that the most pro-McCarthy occupational group in the country is 
small businessmen. See Wallerstein, op. cit. For an excellent discussion of 
the reactionary politics of upward mobile small business, see R. Michels, 
"Psychologic der anti-Kapitalistischen Massenbewegungen," Grundriss der 
Sozialekonomik, Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 249. A recent study of post-war elections 
in Great Britain also suggests that small businessmen react more negatively 
to welfare state politics than any other occupational group. John Bonham 
reports that a larger proportion of small businessmen shifted away from 
the Labor Party between 1945 and 1950 than any other stratum. See the 
Middle Class Vote (London: Faber and Faber, 1954), p. 129. 

38 There is a considerable body of evidence which indicates that economic 
liberalism (support of the labor movement, government planning, and so 
forth) is correlated inversely with socio-economic status, while non-economic 
"liberalism" (support of civil liberties, and internationalism), is associated 
positively with socio-economic status. That is, the poor are for redistribution 
of wealth, while the more well-to-do are liberal in non-economic matters. 
See G. H. Smith, "Liberalism and Level of Information," Journal of Educa- 

306 The Radical Right 

tional Psychology, February 1948, pp. 65-81; Hyman and Sheatsley, op. cit., 
pp. 617; reports of the American Institute of Public Opinion, passim. 

These findings are paralleled by various reports which suggest that lower 
status and education are associated with high scores on scales designed to 
measure degree of authoritarianism. See H. H. Hyman and P. B. Sheatsley, 
"The Authoritarian Personality A Methodological Critique," in M. Jahoda 
and R. Christie, Studies in the Scope and Method of "The Authoritarian Per- 
sonality" (Glencoe 111.: The Free Press, 1954), p. 94; R. Christie, "Authori- 
tarianism Re-examined," in ibid., pp. 169-75. 

Janowitz and Marvick have reported the interesting rinding based on a 
national sample that the two most "authoritarian" groups are the poorly 
educated lower class, and the poorly educated lower middle class. See M. 
Janowitz and D. Marvick, "Authoritarianism and Political Behavior," Public 
Opinion Quarterly, Summer 1953, pp. 185-201. 

The Stouffer study reports results similar to these earlier ones. In addition 
it indicates tnat"leader^,4i_community organizations, most of whom are 
drawn from the upper part of T^ie class structure and are college educated, 
are much more favorable to civil liberties than the general population. See 
S. A. Stouffer, op. cit., pp. 28-57, and passim. 

89 Zetterberg in an unpublished study of attitudes toward civil liberties in a 
New Jersey community found that working-class respondents were much more 
intolerant on civil-liberties questions than middle-class respondents, and that 
working-class Republicans were somewhat more anti-civil libertarian than 
working-class Democrats. Similar conclusions may be deduced from various 
reports of the American Institute of Public Opinion (Gallup Poll) and the 
Stouffer study. The first indicates that lower-class respondents are more favor- 
ably disposed to McCarthy than middle and upper class, but that Democrats 
are more likely to be anti-McCarthy than are Republicans. Stouffer reports 
similar findings with regard to attitudes toward civil liberties. Unfortunately, 
neither the Gallup Poll nor Stouffer have presented their results by strata 
for the supporters of each party separately. See S. A. Stouffer, op. cit., pp. 
210-15. A survey study of the 1952 elections indicates that at every educa- 
tional level, persons who scored high on an "authoritarian personality" scale 
were more likely to be Eisenhower voters than were those who gave "equali- 
tarian" responses. Robert E. Lane, "Political Personality and Electoral 
Choice," American Political Science Review, March 1955, p. 180. 

In Britain, Eysenck reports that "middle-class Conservatives are more ten- 
der-minded [less authoritarian] than working-class Conservatives; middle-class 
Liberals are more tender-minded than working-class Liberals; middle-class 
Socialists more tender-minded than working-class Socialists, and even middle- 
class Communists are more tender-minded than working-class Communists." 
H. I. Eysenck, The Psychology of Politics (London: Routledge and Kegan 
Paul, 1954), p. 137. Similar findings are indicated also in a Japanese study 
which reports that the lower classes and the less educated are more authori- 
tarian than the middle and upper strata and the better educated, but the 
supporters of the socialist parties are less authoritarian than those who vote 
for the two "bourgeois" parties. See Kotaro Kido and M. Sugi, "A Report 
on Research on Social Stratification and Social Mobility in Tokyo (HI). The 
Structure of Social Consciousness," Japanese Sociological Review, January 
1954, pp. 74-100. See also National Public Opinion Research Institute (of 
Japan) Report No. 26, A Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Civil Liberty. 

An as yet unpublished secondary analysis of German data collected by the 
UNESCO Institute at Cologne yields similar results for Germany. The work- 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 307 

ing classes are less favorable to a democratic party system than are the 
middle and upper classes. However, within every occupational stratum men 
who support the Social-Democrats are more likely to favor democratic prac- 
tices than those who back the more conservative parties. The most anti- 
democratic group of all are workers who vote for non-Socialist groups. (This 
analysis was done by the author.) 

It is also true that the working class forms the mass base of authoritarian 
parties in Argentina, Italy, and France. Ignazio Silone is one of the few 
important Socialists who have recognized that recent historical events chal- 
lenge the belief that the working class is inherently a progressive and demo- 
cratic force. 

". . . the myth of the liberating power of the proletariat has dissolved along 
with that other myth of the inevitability of progress. The recent examples 
of the Nazi labor unions, those of Salazar and Peron . . . have at last con- 
vinced of this even those who were reluctant to admit it on the sole grounds 
of the totalitarian degeneration of Communism. . . . The worker, as we 
have seen and as we continue to see, can work for the most conflicting 
causes; he can be Blackshirt or partisan." Ignazio Silone, "The Choice of 
Comrades," Dissent, Winter 1955, p. 14. 

It may in fact be argued that the lower classes are most attracted to chili- 
astic political movements, which are necessarily intolerant and authoritarian. 
Far from workers in poorer countries being Communists because they do 
not realize that the Communists are authoritarian, as many democratic Social- 
ists have argued and hoped, they may be Communists because the evangelical 
"only truth" aspect of Communism is more attractive to them than the 
moderate and democratic gradualism of the social democracy. 

40 See R. K. Merton, "Social Structure and Anomie,** in his Social Theory 
and Social Structure (Glencoe, HI.: Free Press, 1949), Chapter IV. 

41 The large Catholic working class, although predominantly Democratic, 
also contributes heavily to the support of extremist tendencies on the right 
in questions dealing with civil liberties or foreign policy. This pattern stems 
in large measure from their situation as Catholics, and is discussed in a 
later section. 

42 It is interesting to note in this connection that the large group of persons 
who are inactive politically in American society tend to be the most con- 
servative and authoritarian in their attitudes. ITiese groups, largely concen- 
trated in the lower classes, do, however, contribute to the results of public 
opinion polls since they are interviewed. Consequently such polls may exag- 
gerate greatly the effective strength of right-wing extremism. Stouffer reports 
that those less interested in politics are less tolerant of the civil liberties of 
Communists and other deviants than are those who are interested. See S. A. 
Stouffer, op. cit., pp. 83-86. Sanford, who found a negative relationship be- 
tween socio-economic status and authoritarian attitudes, states: "We have 
data showing that authoritarians are not highly participant in political affairs, 
do not join many community groups, do not become officers in the groups 
they become members of." F. H. Sanford, Authoritarianism and Leadership 
(Philadelphia: Stephenson Brothers, 1950), p. 168; see also G. M. Connelly 
and H. H. Field, "The non-voter Who he is, what he thinks," Public Opin- 
ion Quarterly, Vol. 8, 1944, pp. 175-87. Data derived from a national 
survey in 1952 indicate that when holding education constant, individuals 
who score high on an "authoritarianism" scale are more likely to belong to 
voluntary associations .than those who score low. The high "authoritarians," 
however, are less likely to engage in political activity or have a sense that 

308 The Radical Right 

they personally can affect the political process. Robert E. Lane, op, cit* 9 
pp. 178-79. On the other hand Bendix suggests that the apathetic tradition- 
alist group was mobilized by the Nazis in the final Weimar elections; see R. 
Bendix, "Social Stratification and Political Power," American Political Science 
Review, Vol. 46, 1952, pp. 357-75. 

43 Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics (New York: Harper and 
Bros., 1952), p. 132. Lubell's thesis has been challenged by R. H. Schmuckler, 
"The Region of Isolationism," American Political Science Review, June 1953, 
pp. 388-401. Schmuckler denies that the statistical evidence proves that any 
one factor is basically correlated with voting behavior of isolationist members 
of Congress. Lubell, however, uses other indicators of the effect of ethnic 
attitudes on voting on foreign policy issues, the changes in the election of 
1940. Regardless of who is correct, the basic hypothesis that feelings about 
past American policy which are linked to the position of different ethnic 
groups, affect the current political behavior of these groups may still be valid. 

44 Among once liberal Midwest isolationist politicians who were first liberals 
and became extreme rightists were Senators Nye, Wheeler and Shipstead. 

45 "The memory of opposition to the last war seems the real mainspring 
behind present-day isolationism. What really binds the former isolationists is 
not a common view on foreign policy for the future, but a shared remem- 
brance of American intervention in the last war. The strength of the Repub- 
lican appeal for former isolationist voters is essentially one of political 
revenge." Lubell, op. cit., p. 152. 

46 Various national surveys have indicated that Catholics are more likely 
to be favorable to Senator McCarthy than adherents of other denominations. 
(See the reports of the American Institute of Public Opinion.) The recent 
survey of attitudes toward civil liberties reports that outside of the South, 
church-going Catholics are more intolerant than church-going Protestants. 
See S. A. Stouffer, op. cit., pp. 144-45. 

47 See S. M. Lipset, et al, op. cit., p. 1140; Eysenck, op. ciL, p. 21. 

48 A similar effort is being made at the current time by the Australian con- 
servatives who are attacking the Labor Party for alleged softness towards 
Communism, and for allowing itself to be penetrated by the Communists. 
The presence of a large Catholic population in these countries, traditionally 
linked to the more liberal party, is probably one of the most important 
factors affecting the reluctance of the moderate conservative politicians to 
oppose the tactics of the extremists on their own side. 

49 In Canada, also, the Catholics have provided the main dynamic for threats 
to civil liberties, which are presented as necessary parts of the struggle 
against Communism. The government of the Catholic province of Quebec 
passed legislation in the thirties which gave the government the right to in- 
vade private homes in search of Communist activities and to padlock any 
premises which have been used by the Communists. Civil liberties groups in 
Canada have charged that these laws have been used against non-Communist 
opponents of the government especially in the labor movement. 

50 There is, of course, no reliable quantitative way of measuring this influence, 
although all students of the Communist movement agree that its success was 
greatest among Jews. In Canada, where under a parliamentary system, the 
Communist Party was able to conduct election campaigns in districts where 
they had hopes of large support, they elected members to the Federal House 
and provincial legislatures from Jewish districts only. Similarly, in Great 
Britain, one of the two Communists elected in 1945 came from a London 
Jewish district. 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 309 

51 It is possible to suggest another hypothesis for Catholic support of political 
intolerance in this country which ties back to the earlier discussion of the 
working class. All existing survey data indicate that the two religious groups 
which are most anti-civil libertarian are the Catholics and the fundamentalist 
Protestant sects. Both groups are predominantly low status in membership. 
In addition, both fall under the general heading of extreme moralizing or 
Puritanical religions. In the past, and to a considerable extent in the present 
also, the fundamentalists played a major role in stimulating religious bigotry, 
especially against Catholics. It is important, however, to note also that a 
large part of the American Catholic church is dominated by priests of Irish 
birth or ancestry. French Catholic intellectuals have frequently referred to 
the American Catholic church as the Hibernian American church. Irish Cath- 
olics, like French Canadians, are quite different from those in the European 
Latin countries. They have been affected by Protestant values, or perhaps 
more accurately by the need to preserve the church in a hostile Protestant 
environment. One consequence of this need has been an extreme emphasis 
on morality, especially in sexual matters. Studies of the Irish have indicated 
that they must rank high among the sexually repressed people of the earth. 
The church in Ireland has tended to be extremely intolerant of deviant views 
and behavior. The pattern of intolerance among the American Irish Cath- 
olics is in large measure a continuation in somewhat modified form of the 
social system of Ireland. Thus the current anti-Communist crusade has united 
the two most morally and sexually inhibited groups in America, the funda- 
mentalist Protestants and the Irish Catholics. I am sure that much could be 
done on a psychoanalytical level to analyze the implications of the moral 
and political tone of these two groups. For a good report on morality and 
sex repression among the Irish in Ireland and America, see John A. O'Brien, 
ed., The Vanishing Irish (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953); see also C. 
Arensberg and S. Kimball, Family and Community in Ireland (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1948). 

52 Many, however, still make Aesopian references to the Jews. For a good 
current report on the anti-Semitic fringe within the radical right see James 
Rorty, "The Native Anti-Semite's *New Look, 9 " Commentary, November 1954, 
pp. 413-21. 

In reporting on the Madison Square Garden rally called by the Ten Mil- 
lion Americans Mobilizing for Justice, a group formed to fight the move 
to censure McCarthy, James Rorty suggests that many of the participants 
were individuals who had taken part in Fascist rallies in the thirties. 

"Edward S. Heckenstein, an American agitator and associate of neo-Nazis 
whom Chancellor Adenauer had the State Department oust from Germany, 
had worked overtime to mobilize his Voters Alliance of German Ancestry. 
So successful were his efforts that Weehawken, Secaucus, and other northern 
New Jersey communities had sent delegations so large that, according to 
organizer George Racey Jordan, it had been necessary to limit their allot- 
ment of seats, to avoid giving an 'unrepresentative* character to the meeting.'* 
James Rorty, "What Price McCarthy Now?", Commentary, January 1955, 
p. 31. 

I was present at this rally, and from my limited vantage point, would 
agree with Rorty. Men who sat near me spoke of having attended "similar" 
rallies ten and fifteen years ago. Perhaps the best indicator of the temper 
of this audience was the fact that Roy Cohn, McCarthy's counsel, felt called 
upon to make a speech for brotherhood, and reiterated the fact that he was 

310 The Radical Right 

a Jew. One had the feeling that Conn felt that many in Ms audience were 

53 See T. W. Adorno, et al., The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Har- 
pers, 1950). See also Richard Christie, op. cit., pp. 123-96, for a summary 
of more recent work in this field. 

54 StoufIer reports that individuals who support "authoritarian . . . child- 
rearing practices" and respond positively to the statement; "People can be 
divided into two classes the weak and the strong," are prone to also advo- 
cate strong measures against Communists, supporters of nationalized industry, 
and critics of religion. These questions are similar to the ones used on various 
psychological scales to locate "authoritarian personalities." S. A. Stouffer, 
op. cit., pp. 94-99. 

55 William Buckley, God and Man at Yale (Chicago: Henry Regnery and 
Co., 1951). 

5 6 Much of the data in this section are drawn from Wallerstein, op. cit. 

57 1 am not suggesting that McCarthy or the radical right are Fascists or even 
precursors of Fascism. For reasons which are discussed below, I do not be- 
lieve they could build a successful social movement even if they wanted to. 
Rather, however, I do suggest that the extreme right in all countries, whether 
Fascist or not, must find a program or issue which can appeal to a section 
of the lower middle class, if not the working class, if it is to succeed. 

58 Congressional Record, February 20, 1950, p. 1954. (My emphasis.) 

59 The Freeman, Vol. I, No. 1, p. 13. 

60 Facts Forum Radio Program, No. 57. 

61 Ibid. (My emphasis.) 

62 The Freeman, November 5, 1951, p. 72. (My emphasis.) 

63 "Where have we loyal allies? In Britain? I would not stake a shilling on 
the reliability of a government which, while enjoying billions in American 
munificence, rushed to the recognition of the Chinese Red regime, traded 
exorbitantly with the enemy through Hong Kong and has sought to frustrate 
American interests in the Far East at every turn/* Joseph R. McCarthy, The 
Story of General George Marshall, America's Retreat from Victory (No. pubL, 
1952), p. 166. 

"As of today some money was taken out of your paycheck and sent to 
Britain. As of today Britain used that money from your paycheck to pay for 
the shipment of the sinews of war to Red China. . . . 

"Now what can we do about it. We can handle this by saying this to our 
allies: If you continue to ship to Red China, while they are imprisoning 
and torturing American men, you will not get one cent of American money." 
Joseph R. McCarthy, quoted in the New York Times, November 25, 1953, 
p. 5: 1-8. 

64 It is, of course, possible that Anglo-Saxon Protestant supporters of McCar- 
thy react similarly to the members of minority ethnic groups to the mention 
of Groton, Harvard, striped-pants diplomats, and certified gentlemen, that 
is, that they too, take gratification in charges which reduce the prestige of 
those above them, even if they are also members of the same ethnic group. 
In large measure, I would guess that it is the middle-class, rather than the 
upper-class members of nationalistic and historical societies who are to be 
found disproportionately among the supporters of the radical right. Con- 
sequently, they too, may be in the position of wanting the high and mighty 

65 In addition much if not most of the support for radical right policies re- 
ported by the polls comes from groups which normally show the lowest 

The Sources of the "Radical Right" 1955 311 

levels of voting or other forms of political participation, women, members 
of fundamentalist sects, and conservative workers. These groups are the most 
difficult to organize politically. 

It is unfortunate that most American politicians as well as the general 
intellectual public do not recognize that the public opinion poll reports on 
civil liberties, foreign policy, and other issues are usually based on samples 
of the total adult population, not of the electorate. Consequently, they prob- 
ably greatly exaggerate the electoral strength of McCarthyism. For a re- 
lated discussion see David Riesman and Nathan Glazer, "The Meaning of 
Opinion,'* in D. Riesman, Individualism Reconsidered (Glencoe, HI.: The 
Free Press, 1954), pp. 492-507. 

^ 6 Frank Conniff in the Journal-American, quoted in The Progressive, April 
1954, p. 58. 

67 The cleavage in the Republican Party revealed by the vote in the United 
States Senate to censure McCarthy largely paralleled the lines suggested in 
this paper. The party divided almost evenly in the vote, with almost all the 
Republican Senators from eastern states plus Michigan voting against McCar- 
thy, while most of the Republicans from the Midwest and far western states 
voted for him. The cleavage, in part, reflects the isolationist and China- 
oriented section of the party on one side, and the internationalist eastern 
wing on the other. From another perspective, it locates the Senators with the 
closest ties to big business against McCarthy, and those coming from areas 
dominated by less powerful business groups on the other. There are, of 
course, a number of deviations from the pattern. 

An indication of the temper of the right wing of the Republican Party 
may be seen from the speeches and reaction at a right-wing rally held in 
Chicago on Lincoln's Birthday. Governor J. Bracken Lee of Utah stated, "We 
have gone farther to the left in the last two years [under Eisenhower] than 
in any other period in our history. I have the feeling that the leadership in 
Washington is not loyal to the Republican Party." Brigadier General William 
Hale Wilbur, U. S. Army, retired, charged that the "great political victory of 
1952 is being subverted. . . . American foreign policy is no longer Ameri- 
can." McCarthy drew loud cheers while denouncing the evacuation of the 
Tachens. Senator George W. Malone of Nevada stated that Washington is 
"the most dangerous town in the United States." New York Times, February 
13, 1955, p. 54. 

68 Perhaps the most interesting event in the extremist versus moderate con- 
servative battle occurred in the 1954 senatorial elections in New Jersey. 
There, a liberal anti-McCarthyite, Clifford Case, former head of the Fund 
for the Republic, ran on the Republican ticket on a platform of anti-McCar- 
thyism. A small group of right-wingers urged "real Republicans" to repudiate 
Case and write in the name of Fred Hartley, coauthor of the Taft-Hartley 
Act on the ballot. This campaign began with considerable publicity, but soon 
weakened. One reason for its rapid decline was that a number of the largest 
corporations in America put direct economic pressure on small businessmen, 
lawyers, and other middle-class people active in Hartley's behalf. These people 
were told that unless they dropped out of the campaign, they would lose 
contracts or business privileges with these corporations. It is significant to 
note that one of the few remaining groups vulnerable to direct old-fashioned 
pressure from big business is the middle-class backers of right-wing extremism. 

69 The stress in this paper on the radical right should not lead to ignoring 
the contribution of the Communist Party to current coercive measures. The 
presence of a foreign controlled conspiracy which has always operated par- 

312 The Radical Right 

tially underground, and which engages in espionage has helped undermine the 
basis of civil liberties. Democratic procedure assumes that all groups will 
play the game, and any actor who consistently breaks the rules endangers 
the continuation of the system. In a real sense, extremists of the right and 
left aid each other, for each helps to destroy the underlying base of a demo- 
cratic social order. 


Three Decades of the Right: 

Coughlinites, McCarthyites, 
1 1962* 


THE THREE most prominent "radical-right" movements of 
the past three decades have been Coughiinism, which figured promi- 
nently in the political life of the 1930s; McCarthyism, which flared 
up in the early 1950s; and the John Birch Society, which has 
occasioned much controversy in the beginning of the 1960s. The 
following is a report of research into the social bases of these 
three movements. The three have been extremely nationalistic in' 
different ways, opposing the philosophy of liberal internationalism 
as applied to the politics of their time. The political focus of their r 
attack has been primarily though not exclusively the Democratic \ 
Party. 2 ^ 

The political ideologies shared by these three movements are not, 
however, what makes them a matter of special concern. Right-wing 
conservatism and nationalism are political doctrines that have a 
legitimate place within any democratic polity. What distinguishes 
these groups in particular is that they are extremist tendencies, and 
as juch^hgye rejected^ the b^ic^ules^of'Semocratic society. Edward 
Shils has described these attributes well: 

An extremist group is an alienated group. ... It cannot share that 
sense of affinity to persons or attachment to the institutions which con- 
fine political conflicts to peaceful solutions. . . . The romantic reaction- 

* Copyright 1962, 1963 by Seymour Martin Lipset 

314 The Radical Right 

aries, aristocratic and populistic . . , allege that they wish to conserve 
tradition. In practice they regard tradition as dead or corrupt or perni- 
cious and they think that they must wipe out all that exists in order to 
recreate the right kind of tradition. Neither ... the Christian Front 
[of Father Coughlin] nor the most zealous populist followers of Senator 
McCarthy at his height found the living traditions of the society in 
which they lived worthy of conservation. They were convinced that they 
had fallen into the hands of corrupt politicians and had themselves 
become corrupt. . . . 

The ideological extremists [of the left and right] all extremists are 
inevitably ideological because of their isolation from the world, feel 
menaced by unknown dangers. The paranoiac tendencies which are 
closely associated with their apocalyptic and aggressive outlook make 
them think that the ordinary world, from which their devotion to the 
ideal cuts them off, is not normal at all; they think it is a realm of 
secret machinations. What goes on in the world of pluralistic politics, 
in civil society, is a secret to them. It is a secret which they must 
unmask by vigorous publicity. Their image of the "world" as the realm 
of evil, against which they must defend themselves and which they must 
ultimately conquer, forces them to think of their enemy's knowledge 
as secret knowledge. 8 

But if these three rightist groups have many similarities, they 
differ greatly too. A large part of the differences may be attributed to 
the varying circumstances under which they arose. Coughlinism 
clearly was a response to the unsettled economic conditions of the 
1930s, and to the international tensions of the period the rise of 
Fascism, the Spanish Civil War, and, eventually, World War II. 
McCarthyism, as the original essays in this book make abundantly 
clear, developed in a period characterized domestically by prosperity 
and twenty years of Democratic Party rule, and internationally by the 
growing world power of Communism. 4 The John Birch Society was 
formed in the late 1950s, and came to general public attention as a 
political force in the 1960s. This period resembles the heyday of 
McCarthyism. There has been a relatively high level of economic 
prosperity combined with frustration in the international struggle 
with Communism. 

To a considerable degree, the ideological differences among the 
three rightist movements reflect these variations in time of origin. 
Father Charles Coughlin began his political career as a radical mon- 
etary reformer, and came to national attention with his attacks on 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 315 

the bankers and the financial system for creating the Great Depression 
of the 1930s. 5 He supported Franklin Roosevelt during his first 
years in office, but then turned on him in 1935 and launched a third 
party, the Union Party, in the Presidential elections of 1936. This 
party secured only 900,000 votes nationally, and Coughlin withdrew 
temporarily from politics. He returned to the air in 1937. Franco 
and the Spanish Civil War had become major issues, and Coughlin 
backed Franco against the "Communist" Loyalists. 6 Accompanying 
the latter issue was a general commitment to isolationism and opposi- 
tion to an anti-Nazi foreign policy. All these attacks were linked to 
extreme denunciations of President Roosevelt, the C.I.O., and liberal 
Democrats as having done little to reduce the economic misfortunes 
caused by the depression. And in the middle of 1938, he began to 
war openly and continuously against Jewish influence in politics and 
business. 7 In a real sense, he attempted to build an anti-elitist, anti- 
liberal, nationalist movement, similar in many ways to the movements 
of Peron and Vargas in Argentina and Brazil. # 

If Coughlin sought to win the support of those whose social and 
economic position had been worsened by a prolonged depression, 
McCarthy, as the essays in this book indicate, appealed to the re- 
sentments of prosperity. Although he was a Republican Senator, he^ 
devoted little of his public discourse to domestic social and economic 
problems. Rarely after 1950 did he discuss welfare legislation, trade 
unions, pensions, or other major domestic issues. His attacks were 
concentrated on domestic Communism. Unlike Coughlin he never 
criticized Jews or other minority ethnic groups. Rather, McCarthy's 
ideal-typical Communist enemy was an upper-class Eastern Episcopa- 
lian graduate of Harvard employed by the State Department. The 
threat to our way of life was embodied in upper-class, well-educated 
Easterners and New Deal liberals, the dominant forces controlling 
American political life in both parties. 

Although McCarthy was in no sense a Fascist, Ms appeal was 
nevertheless similar to those of European Fascist movements, which 
attacked the upper class, big business, and the Socialists. 8 Fascist^ 
movements, however, explicitly appealed to the economic and status 
interests of the lower middle class; McCarthy never attempted an 
economic-interest appeal. Rather, wittingly or not, he directed his 
appeal to the status resentment occasioned by prosperity. However, 

316 The Radical Right 

dealt largely with lie internal Communist conspiracy that had caused 
the loss of China, had involved us in the then ongoing Korean War, 
was preventing us from winning it, and had earlier been responsible 
for the seemingly pro-Russian foreign policy of World War II. Es- 
sentially, McCarthy functioned as a critic of New Deal Democratic 
Party policies and personnel. His fulminations against members of 
the Eisenhower administration of 1953 and 1954 were directed 
against their naivete in not recognizing the need to clean out New 
Deal-appointed Communists from government, and their insistence on 
retaining the rales of due process when dealing with alleged sub- 

Some four years after McCarthy was censured by the Senate, the 
John Birch Society arose, seemingly in response to the failure of 
the Republican administration to eliminate the "Socialist" policies of 
Its New Deal predecessors, and to its failure to cope adequately with 
the continued strength of international Communism. For the Birch 
Society, the liberal Republicans have been as much a danger to 
American institutions as the New Deal Democrats. Avowed Com- 
munists are not the main problem. Rather, the liberals in both 
parties have been sapping the moral strength of America by con- 
tinuing the welfare state at home and refusing to fight Communism 
and Socialism abroad. 

In a real sense, therefore, the three "radical-rightist" movements 
have differed in their domestic ideological approach. Coughjin ap- 
gealed to the ecqnomc^^ of big 

sconqmic power, the baSks. Although opposed to Roosevelt, he did 
call for greater government aid to the underprivileged, particularly 
through manipulation of the credit system, restrictions on foreclosures, 
and the like. McCarthy, thoujgfyi E^^ 

on symbols of upper-class status as well ^.o^t^J^^^^E^f 
as such. He rarely criticized trade unions, and ignored or praised 
minority ethnic groups. Of the three leaders, Robert Welch of the 
Birch Society has been the most explicit in rejecting certain aspects 
Df the democratic process, including universal suffrage, and in 
>penly acknowledging his desire to imitate Communist political tac- 
ics, while at the same time proposing an uninhibited and pure version 
rf economic conservatism. Hence, one might be justified in suggesting 
hat the appeal of the first movement was to the underprivileged 
strata normally associated with leftism; that the second attracted the 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 317 

middle classes, who have preferred center politics in the European 
sense (that is, against both the organized left and the upper classes 
and big business); and that the third, the Birch Society, which 
espouses economic conservatism, should have its greatest success with^ 
the more privileged strata. 9 On other issues, of course, the three have 
shared similar orientations: isolationism, extreme nationalism, strong 
emphasis on the internal as well as the external Communist threat, 
and a lack of respect for due process in dealing with problems of 
domestic Communism. 

Generalizations such as these concerning presumed support can 
be made from an examination of the speeches and programs of the 
diverse radical-right groups. To what extent they conform to reality 
has been a moot question. Although public-opinion-survey organi- 
zations have been gathering information concerning the attitudes of 
the general population since 1935, few scholars have attempted to 
find out who has supported groups such as these. This lack of knowl- 
edge is particularly true with regard to Coughlinism and other move- 
ments of the 1930s. Some limited use has been made of the rather 
large number of surveys conducted by poling organizations regarding 
attitudes toward McCarthy. Until the essays in this volume, nothing 
much has been published with regard to public support of the John 
Birch Society. An effort is now under way at the Survey Research 
Center of the University of California to analyze the nature of 
political extremism in the United States, a study that will be based 
in part on an analysis of public-opinion-survey data dealing with 
such politics. The study is as yet in a very early stage, but I feel that 
some preliminary findings that bear on the hypotheses discussed in 
the first edition of this book ought to be submitted to readers of the 

The Coughlinites 

The analysis of the supporters of Father Coughlin is based on 
two surveys conducted by the Gallup organization in April and De- 
cember, 1938. Although conducted seven months apart, they show 
no significant differences with respect to the social characteristics 
of those indicating approval of Coughlin. Approximately 25 per cent 
of each sample stated that they supported Father Coughlin. 10 

318 The Radical Right 



Approve Disapprove No Opinion Total in Sample 

April 1938 27% 32% 41% (2864) 

December 1938 23 30 47 (2068) 

The fact that so many stated that they were in favor of Father 
Coughlin does not mean that such large proportions of the population 
had CoughHnite attitudes on any specific issues. For example, only 
8 per cent of those who approved of Mm reported having voted 
for the Union Party's presidential candidate, William Lemke, in 1936. 
Many who favored Coughlin were also pro-Roosevelt and, in some 
cases, were sympathetic to Loyalist Spain. Although Coughlin turned 
openly anti-Semitic in July of 1938, and was sharply attacked by his 
liberal critics as early as 1935 for being pro-Fascist and sympathetic 
to racism, some of the Jews in the sample and one-half of the 
Negroes approved of him in the December survey. It would seem that 
Coughlin was never perceived by the bulk of the American people 
as a Fascist and anti-Semite, and that much of his support came 
from people who disapproved of much of what he advocate4X 
"""' Thejmgle^most jmjx^^ 

^j^^^l^^l&& Although many Catholic priests and bishops 
openly opposed him and attacked many of his views as being in 
conflict with Catholic doctrine, there can be little question that Cath- 
olics were much more in favor of him than were Protestants. 12 
As the data in Table 2 suggest, over two-fifths of the Catholics sup- 
ported him and one-quarter opposed him in December, 1938. 13 
Among Protestants, less than one-fifth favored Coughlin, while almost 
one-third expressed disapproval. Coughlin was better known among 
Catholics than among Protestants; 33 per cent of the former had no 
opinion of him, as contrasted with over 50 per cent of the latter. 
Clearly, as we shall see later in the analysis of McCarthy, it is diffi- 
cult to separate out any judgment concerning a prominent Catholic 
figure from attitudes toward him as a prominent member of that 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 319 





Attitudes Religious Affiliation 

Toward Coughlin Catholics Protestants Jews No Religious Choice 

Approve 42% 19% 10% 19% 

Disapprove 25 31 63 28 

No opinion 33 50 27 53 

(380) (1047) (67) (560) 

As might be expected, Protestants varied according to denomination 
in their opinions on Coughlin (see Table 3). Episcopalians, Con- 
gregationalists, and Baptists showed the highest excess of disapproval 
over approval; Methodists and Presbyterians occupied a middle posi- 
tion, somewhat more opposed than favorable; Lutherans were the one 
Protestant group in which supporters outnumbered opponents. 14 
The opposition to Coughlin of Episcopalians and Congregationalists 
may reflect their position as the churches of high-status, old-stock 
Americans, The Coughlin support among Lutherans may be due to 
the fact that Lutherans were often of recent German origin, and hence 
likely to be isolationists in the years preceding World War IL As 
will be noted subsequently, the Protestant groups differed similarly 
among themselves with respect to McCarthy. 





Attitudes Religious Affiliation 

to Coughlin Bap. Meth. Luth. Pres. Episc. Cong. Other Prot. 

Approve 16% 20% 29% 20% 21% 21% 12% 

Disapprove 30 29 21 27 45 43 33 

No opinion 54 51 50 53 33 36 55 

(147) (293) (125) (164) (84) (47) (190) 
Excess of 
over dis- 
in per cent 14 9 +8 7 24 22 21 


The Radical Right 

The second maioj jT facteL,t3tmt ^^rentmted ^iiRpoi^ers of Coughjgi 
from opponents was economic .status. Among both Catholics and 
Protestants, the lower the economic level, the greater the proportion 
of supporters to opponents (see Table 4). 




Attitudes Toward Coughlin 

Protestants and No 
Catholics Religious Choice 

Above av. 
On Relief 






+ 4 ( 40) 
+13 (121) 
+21 ( 48) 
+19 ( 77) 
+21 ( 98) 






-35 (264) 
-16 (609) 
- 8 (209) 
+ 1 (277) 

a Per cent difference between approval and disapproval 

Among Catholics of above average means, the proportion approv- 
ing was only slightly more (4 per cent) than those disapproving, 
while among poor Catholics, many more (19 per cent) favored 
Coughlin than opposed him. The same relationship with economic 
status held among Protestants. Protestants of above average economic 
level indicated great disapproval, while the proportion approving 
and disapproving was about the same among poorer Protestants. 
Occupational variations (not presented here) showed about the same 
pattern. Manual workers, those on government public works 
(W.P.A.), and the unemployed were most likely to be Coughlin 
supporters among both Catholics and Protestants, while in both reli- 
gious groups, professionals and those in business revealed the least 
approval and the most opposition. 

For some reason, the relative position of white-collar workers dif- 
fered according to religion. Catholic white-collar workers were among 
the high-support groups, as high or higher than the manual workers. 
Among Protestants, white-collar occupations resembled the profes- 
sionals and businessmen, giving little support to Coughlin. Fanners, 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 321 

both Catholic and Protestant, tended to be high on the Coughlin side. 
Although the number of cases in each analytic cell becomes small, 
the pattern holds when three variables religion, occupation, and in- 
come are held constant; within a given religious and occupational 
group, approved of Coughlin increased as economic status decreased. 

The combination of socio-economic position and religion explain 
much of the difference between supporters and opponents, but other 
factors, of course, played a role. Age was important as a source of 
differentiation; older people were more likely to back Coughlin than 
others, holding both religion and income constant. Also, men seem 
to have been slightly more favorable to Coughlin than women. 

Rural areas and small towns have traditionally been identified 
as centers of conservatism, populism, and anti-Semitism in the United 
States and other countries. This pattern held true regarding attitudes 
toward Coughlin. The ratio between support and opposition was 
most favorable for Coughlin in rural areas and small towns. Only 
6 per cent of Catholics living on farms disapproved of Coughlin, as 
compared with 28 per cent opposed among those living in urban 
areas. Regionally, Coughlin's support followed the pattern one might 
expect from a spokesman in the populist and social-credit tradition, 
and Ms greatest support came from the West Central region of the 
country (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, Ne- 
braska, and Kansas). New England, with its high concentration of 
Irish Catholics, was second highest. The areas of least Coughlin 
support were the West Coast and the South. 

Although public-opinion surveys did not secure information on 
ethnic background during the 1930s, and hence it is impossible to 
relate these findings to ethnicity, other sources suggest that the re- 
gional support for Coughlin may have reflected his specific ethnic 
appeal to German and Irish Catholics. An ecological analysis of the 
1936 vote for Coughlin's presidential candidate, Lemke, indicates 
that it was concentrated in areas that were disproportionately Irish 
and German Catholic. 

Outside of North Dakota [his home state], Lemke got more than 
10 per cent of the vote in thirty-nine counties. Twenty-one of these 
counties are more than 50 per cent Catholic. In twenty-eight of these 
thirty-nine counties the predominant nationality element is German. 

The only four cities where Lemke got more than 5 per cent of the 
vote are also heavily German and Irish Catholic. 15 

322 The Radical Right 

The analysis of the demographic background factors suggests 
clearly that Coughlin was strongest among Catholics and Lutherans 
in contrast to other Protestants and to Jews, among the less well-to- 
do, among farmers and those living in small communities, among 
older people as compared with young ones, and among those living 
in the Midwest and New England, as contrasted with the Far West 
and the South. 

"* The surveys permit some limited specification of the attitudes of 
Coughlin's supporters. The best available measure of opinion on 
foreign policy at the time is the attitude toward the protagonists in the 
Spanish Civil War. Religious affiliation played a major role in affect- 
ing the opinions of both supporters and opponents of Coughlin. Cath- 
olics as a group favored the Rebels (40 per cent for Franco, 20 per 
cent for the Loyalists); Protestants backed the Loyalists (40 per 
cent to 10 per cent). Among both Catholics and Protestants at each 
economic level, Coughlin supporters were more disposed to favor 
Franco than were those who disapproved of the radio priest. How- 
ever, in spite of Coughlin's repeated concentration on the Spanish 
Civil War issue, only 43 per cent of his Catholic supporters and a 
mere 8 per cent of his Protestant followers espoused his position re- 
garding Franco. Seemingly, concern with the Communist issue in the 
Spanish Civil War was not a major source of Father Coughlin's 
popular appeal. 

Analysis of attitudes toward domestic issues suggests that, religious 
identification apart, Coughlin's support was due in large part to eco- 
nomic dissatisfaction. Coughlin backers at every economic level were 
much more discontented with their lot, with the economic state of 
the country, and with prospects for the future than were his oppo- 
nents. For example, two-thirds of his supporters felt their personal 
economic situation had been declining, while among those opposed 
to Coughlin slightly less than one-half felt that their situation had 

The antagonism expressed by Coughlin to the existing business 
system, to exorbitant profits, to bankers (Jewish and others), and 
the fact that his support came largely from the lower class would 
lead one to expect that Coughlinites would express greater antipathy 
to Republicans and conservatism than to Democrats and liberalism. 
The data do not bear out this assumption. Those who approved of 
Coughlin in 1938 were more likely to support the G.O.P. than the 
Democratic Party, and conservatism rather than liberalism. Sup- 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 323 

porters of Coughlin were only slightly more favorable to a third 
party than Ms opponents (11 per cent as compared to 8 per cent). 
The party preferences of Coughlin supporters may be inferred from 
responses to a question posed in the April, 1938, survey: "If you 
were voting for a Congressman today, would you be most likely to 
vote for the Republican, the Democrat, or a third party Candidate?" 
Among Coughlin supporters who expressed a partisan choice, 40 
per cent preferred the Democrats, while 55 per cent of Coughlin's 
opponents backed the Democrats. These differences are evident with- 
in each economic category as well (see Table 5). 

. TABLE 5 




Attitude Toward Coughlin 


1938 Vote Intention 
Third Third 

Income Level Repub. Dem. Party N Repub* Dem. Party N 

Above average 66% 25 9 ( 69) 57% 37 6 (128) 




On relief 


Approval of Coughlin may have meant sharply different things to 
those of differing economic position. Though at every level Coughlin 
backers were more often for the Republicans than were those who 
opposed him, the percentage of those who preferred the Democratic 
Party and also endorsed Coughlin increased with lower income. The 
same pattern occurred with respect to attitude toward President 
Roosevelt; that is, most of the poor and those on relief who approved 
of Coughlin supported Roosevelt. 




























( 85) 




( 69) 









324 The Radical Right 





Proportion Opposed to Roosevelt 

Attitudes Toward Coughlin 
Income Level Approve Disapprove 

Above average 

74% ( 79) 

58% (157) 


62 (246) 

37 (341) 


52 (142) 

30 (155) 


42 (157) 

20 (135) 

OE relief 

25 ( 99) 

18 ( 82) 

The data on party support and opinion of Roosevelt presented in 
Table 6 suggest that many poor people who backed Coughlin did so 
in spite of , or without knowledge of, his attitude toward Roosevelt. It 
is likely that among the less educated and the underprivileged both 
Coughlin and Roosevelt were viewed in similar lights. Those who 
felt friendly to Father Coughlin were clearly not of one political 
persuasion, and he failed to get more than a small minority of them 
to back his third-party candidate. It seems evident that his well-to-do 
supporters were a different group ideologically than his lower-strata 
backers. The former may have found him to their liking because of 
his antagonism to Roosevelt and the New Deal, his opposition to 
the rise of the C.I.O. unions, and his advocacy of militant action 
to block the rise of Communist forces at home and abroad. For his 
lower-class supporters, Coughlin's attacks on capitalism, the banks, 
Jewish financiers, and inept government handling of the depression 
may have been crucial. Though he failed to build his own party or 
movement, he did reach a large audience every Sunday on the radio 
and was regarded favorably by a considerable section of the popu- 
lace, many of whom were traditional Catholic and working-class 
Democrats. One might speculate, therefore, as to whether the issues 
raised by Coughlin may have contributed to the drop-off in Demo- 
cratic support, particularly among Catholics, in 1938 and 1940. 
Coughlin may have been instrumental in transferring support from 
the Democratic to the Republican Party. 

Evidence tending to confirm this hypothesis may be found in com- 
parisons between the 1936 Presidential vote and 1938 opinion on 
parties and candidates. In the latter year, Coughlin supporters who 
had voted for Roosevelt in 1936 were more likely to have changed 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 325 

their opinion concerning the President than were Roosevelt voters 
who disapproved of the radio priest. 

The same relationship holds in a comparison of the 1936 vote 
with the party choice of voters in the 1938 Congressional elections. 
Among those who voted for Roosevelt in 1936 and approved of 
Coughlin in 1938, only 50 per cent said they would vote Democratic^ 
while among Roosevelt voters who disapproved of Coughlin, 64 per 
cent remained faithful to the Democrats. 





1936 Presidential Vote 


Attitude To- 1938 Party Choice 

ward Coughlin Rep, Dem. 3rd N.O. Rep. Dem. 3rd JV.O. 

Approve 21% 50% 9% 20% (342) 78% 5% 4% 14 (256) 

Disapprove 9 64 9 19 (509) 73 11 2 11 (323) 

No Opinion 13 64 4 19 (477) 84 2 3 14% (231) 

Coughlin has often been considered a prototype of American 
fascism. 16 Nevertheless, it is clear that the 15 or 25 per cent of the 
population who in 1938 and 1939 supported him did not actually 
believe in Fascism. There may be some question as to whether most 
of Coughlin's supporters agreed with his anti-Semitism. Unfortu- 
nately none of the surveys inquiring about attitudes toward Coughlin 
solicited opinions about the Jews. Other surveys made during this 
period did, however* contain questions on anti-Semitism, and these 
permit some estimate of the relationship of Coughlin support to ex- 
pressed prejudice, since it is possible to examine the beliefs of Union 
Party voters. As expected, most of those who reported in 1938 that 
they had voted for Lemke in the previous Presidential election in- 
dicated approval of Coughlin. Lemke voters were more likely to 
indicate anti-Semitic beliefs than the rest of the population, but the 
difference was not large. The data from two 1939 Gallup surveys 
that asked whether respondents would support "a campaign against 
Jews" indicate that 21 per cent of 1936 Lemke voters, 12 per cent 
of Roosevelt supporters, and 8 per cent of Landon voters were overtly 
anti-Semitic. Further, in national surveys both before and after 
Coughlin began his anti-Semitic attacks, the same proportion (12 per 

326 The Radical Right 

cent) reported they would support a campaign against Jews. While 
these findings suggest that Coughlin's backers were probably more 
anti-Semitic than the population in general, it is weE to keep in mind 
that the large majority of his Union Party supporters did not give 
anti-Semitic responses to the survey questions. 17 

The data concerning the social characteristics of Coughlin's fol- 
bwers challenge the generalizations expressed by some that Cough- 
inism as a form of proto-Fascism appealed primarily to the middle 
:lass. 18 As contrasted with European Fascist movements, which re- 
cruited disproportionately from the middle strata (small business 
and wMte-coEar elements), Coughlin, religious appeal apart, drew 
his support from manual workers and the unemployed. The one com- 
mon link between the class base of the Coughlin movement and 
that of the European Fascists was the farmers. Populist antagonism 
toward the bankers together with general anti-elitist and anti-cos- 
mopolitan attitudes may have accounted for this support. If Cough- 
Ihfs movement was a Fascist movement, then it represented a version 
of "proletarian 95 fascism more comparable to that of Peron and Var- 
gas than to those of Hitler and Mussolini. 

The Social Base of McCarthyism 

It is extremely difficult to ascertain from survey data the propor- 
tion of "McCarthyites" in the population during the Senator's hey- 
day. Part of the 'difficulty arises from the varying meanings that 
might be attached to the questions posed. Some queries centered on 
general issue of the prevalence and threat of domestic Communism, 
while others focused more specifically on Senator McCarthy and 
approval and disapproval of his tactics. Questions phrased in general 
terms of whether McCarthy's allegations about Communists in gov- 
ernment were largely true or not usually produced a rather large 
porportion of "pro-McCarthy" replies. But questions implying a more 
direct evaluation of the Senator himself e.g., how McCarthy's en- 
dorsement of a candidate would affect one's vote produced a very 
different pattern of response. When attitude toward the existence 
of Communists in government was not mentioned, somewhere be- 
tween 10 and 20 per cent were favorable, while about 30 to 40 per 
cent were opposed to the Wisconsin Senator. Once in existence, Mc- 
Carthyism became a much more salient issue to the liberal enemies 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 327 

of the Senator than to his conservative or militantly anti-Communist 
friends. The Communist issue apart, many more people reacted neg- 
atively to the mention of Ms name than positively. His seeming 
popularity was a result of his riding the existing powerful anti-Com- 
munist bandwagon, whose popular influence he may have ultimately 
reduced rather than enhanced by alienating the militant anti-Com- 
munists who believed in due process. 19 This conclusion does not 
mean that McCarthyism did not exist as a political force. There was 
a significant minority of Americans who strongly identified with the 
Senator from Wisconsin, and who approved of any and all methods 
he used to fight the Communist enemy. Some of them presumably 
were attracted to, or at least accepted, his attack on tile Eastern 
upper-class elite and on internationalism. But this group of "Me- 
Carthyites" was probably always a minority, much smaller than the 
"anti-McCarthyites," who saw in him and his followers a basic threat 
to the democratic process once the symbol of McCarthyism had been 
created as a political issue. 

Many of the political policies discussed in the original edition of 
this book as aspects of McCarthyism clearly have to be differentiated 
from the symbolic role the Wisconsin Senator played in American 
political life. The original essays were generally concerned with the 
sentiment for anti-Communist controls in government, university, 
and private life. However, sources of support for such policies have 
always existed independently of the activities of Senator McCarthy. 
Many, if not most, of those who have favored strong internal security 
measures have not differentiated as to which agencies should have 
primary jurisdiction. Many have felt that any public, legitimate 
anti-Communist activity is worthwhile; every time a crisis brings the 
issue of Communist subversion to the fore, they indicate their ap- 
proval of anti-Communist activities if interviewed or called upon to 
vote in a referendum. 

Even in the New Deal period, survey data indicated that the bulk 
of the population supported the outlawing of the Communist Party 
and approved of the original House Un-American Activities Com- 
mittee, led by Martin Dies. In November, 1937, 54 per cent of a 
national Gallup sample favored a law permitting the police to "pad- 
lock places printing Communist literature 5 *; only 35 per cent opposed 
such a measure. In June, 1938, 53 per cent of a national sample 
indicated they were against allowing Communists to hold meetings 
in their community, while only 35 per cent were willing to give 

328 The Radical Right 

Communists this right. In November, 1939, 68 per cent were opposed 
to allowing "leaders of the Communist Party [to] make speeches to 
student groups" and only 24 per cent approved. In June of 1942, 
at a time when the Soviet Union was a military ally of the United 
States, 50 per cent favored a law preventing membership in the 
Communist Party, while 36 per cent were against the proposed act. 
A number of surveys that inquired in 1938 and 1939 whether re- 
spondents approved of continuing die Dies Committee reported that 
approximately three-quarters favored the committee. 20 

Popular awareness of the international Communist threat undoubt- 
edly increased in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the advent of 
the Berlin blockade in 1948, the fall of China in 1949, and the 
outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, but public acceptance of civil 
liberties for Communists neither increased nor decreased. 

McCarthy differed from other anti-Communist investigators in a 
number of ways. He was more successful in gaining personal at- 
tention through Ms claims to specific knowledge of numerous Com- 
munists in government agencies. His attack on the Eastern elite 
groups as the major source of Communist infiltration was unique. 
And he was probably more identified than other anti-Communist 
politicians with efforts to link Democratic international policies with 
the growth of international Communism. Consequently, he appealed 
to the isolationists and other antagonists of American foreign policy. 
Like Father Coughlin, he was an Irish Catholic and may have also 
had symbolic significance to the Catholic Irish, and other ethnic 
groups, which felt resentment in a society dominated by an old 
American Anglo-Saxon elite. These groups have tended to be iso- 
lationist as a result of ethnic identifications with "old-country" issues, 
and, as Catholics, have been especially sensitive to the Communist 

A number of quantitative analyses of the sources of McCarthy's 
support have been published since the original edition of this book 
appeared. A summary of the findings of many of these studies is 
contained in an article by Nelson Polsby. 21 His report indicates that 
McCarthy received disproportionate support from Catholics, New 
Englanders, Republicans, the less educated, the lower class, manual 
workers, farmers, older people, and the Irish. 

These findings coincide, on the whole, with the original assump- 
tions of the authors of these essays, but Polsby suggests that the 

Three Decades oj the Radical Right 1962 


evidence from these surveys and from an examination of the results 
of different election campaigns in which McCarthy, or McCarthyism 
were issues indicate that most of McCarthy's support can be at- 
tributed to his identification as a Republican fighting Democrats. In 
other words, the vast bulk of his backing came- from regular Re- 
publicans, while the large majority of Democrats opposed him. And^ 
Polsby notes that while survey results do sustain the original hy- 
potheses, "this relatively meagre empirical confirmation is unim- 
pressive when set against comparable figures describing the two 
populations [pro- and anti-McCarthy] by their political affiliations." 
Undoubtedly Polsby is correct in stressing the linkage between 
party identification and attitude toward McCarthy. Some confirming 
evidence was reported in a study of the 1954 election by the Univer- 
sity of Michigan's Survey Research Center, which showed the positive 
relationship between degrees of party commitment and attitude to- 
ward McCarthy. 













































Other Responses 















Excess of Antis 

Over Pros 
















Based on replies to question: "If you knew that Senator McCarthy was supporting a 
candidate for Congress, would you be more likely to -vote "for that candidate, or less likely 
to vote for that candidate, or wouldn't it make any difference to you?" 

Angus Campbell and Homer C. Cooper, Group Differences in Attitudes and Votes (Ann 
Arbor: Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, 1956), p. 92. 

The association between McCarthy support and Republicanism 
does not, of course, tell us how many former Democrats and Inde- 
pendents may have joined Republican ranks prior to 1954, because 
their social situation or personal values made them sympathetic to 
McCarthy's version of radical right ideology. As has been noted, a 

330 The Radical Right 

considerable section of Coughlin's 1938 backing came from indi- 
viduals who had supported Roosevelt in 1936, but had later rejected 
him. There is no reliable means of demonstrating the extent to which 
Coughlin or McCarthy contributed to a move away from the Dem- 
ocrats, but the available evidence is at least compatible with the 
hypothesis that they were to some extent influential. A 1954 study 
by the International Research Associates (I.N.R.A.) inquired as to 
the respondent's votes in 1948 and 1952. A comparison of the re- 
lationship between 1948 voting, attitude toward McCarthy, and 1952 
Presidential vote indicates that over half of those who voted for 
Truman in 1948 and subsequently favored McCarthy voted for Ei- 
senhower in 1952, while two-thirds of the anti-McCarthy Truman 
voters favored Stevenson (Table 9). A similar relationship between 
supporting McCarthy and shifting away from the Democrats is sug- 
gested in a study by the Roper public-opinion organization. 22 





1948 Vote 

1952 Truman Dewey 

Vote Pro-McCarthy Anti-McCarthy Pro-McCarthy Anti-McCarthy 

Eisenhower 53% 31% 99% 95% 

Stevenson 47 69 1 5 

(506) (1381) (563) (732) 

A more detailed analysis of the sources of McCarthy's support, 
conducted along the lines of the analysis of Coughlin's backing, how- 
ever, belies the suggestion that party affiliation had more bearing on 
approval or disapproval of McCarthy than other explanatory variables. 
The 1952 Roper study and the 1954 I.N.R.A. survey both suggest 
that the most important single attribute associated with opinion of 
McCarthy was education, while a 1954 national study conducted 
by the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center indicated 
that religious affiliation was of greater significance than party. Table 
10 below shows the relationship between education, party identi- 
fication, and attitude toward McCarthy. 23 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 331 




Party Identification 
Education Democrat Independent Republican 

Graduate School 59 44 28 

College -44 24 19 

Vocational 41 20 19 

High School -27 8 5 

Grammar 18 8 +6 

a Cell entries refer to precentage differences between approval and disapproval of McCarthy. 
For example, among grammar-school Republicans, 24% were pro-McCarthy and 18% were 
anti-McCarthy; among Democrats with graduate education, 8% were pro-McCarthy, 67% 

The relationship between less education and support of McCarthy 
is consistent with what is known about the effect of education on 
political attitudes in general; higher education often makes for greater 
tolerance, greater regard for due process, and increased tolerance of 
ambiguity. The less educated were probably attracted, too, by the 
anti-elitist, anti-intellectual character of McCarthy's oratory, replete 
with attacks on the "socially pedigreed." 24 

The findings from the surveys with respect to occupation are what 
might be anticipated, given the preceding results. Those non-manual 
occupations that require the highest education i.e., professional and 
executive or managerial positions were the most anti-McCarthy 
(Table 11). And as was suggested in my original essay, independent 
businessmen were the most favorable to McCarthy among middle- 
class or non-manual occupations. Workers (including those engaged 
in personal service) were more favorable to McCarthy than were 
those in the middle-class occupations, with the exception of inde- 
pendent businessmen. 

Farmers were also a pro-McCarthy group, according to three out 
of the four surveys and the many studies summarized by Polsby. 
When viewed in occupational categories, McCarthy's main oppo- 
nents were to be found among professional, managerial, and clerical 
personnel, while his support was disproportionately located among 
self-employed businessmen, farmers, and manual workers. 25 

In the I.N.R.A. survey, it was possible to examine the attitudes of 
two groups not in the labor force students and retired persons. 
Students were overwhelmingly opposed to McCarthy, while retired 


The Radical Right 



Per Cent Difference Between Approvers 

and Disapproved 
Roper- 1952* 




Prof. & Exec. 



Exec. & Manager 



Small Bus. 


White Collar 






Ind. Bus. 



Factory Labor 



Supervisor & 

Non-Fac. Labor 












Farm Own./Mgr. 






Gallup Dec. 1954* 

Personal Serv. 
























Michigan 1954* 




Prof. & Bus. 






Cler. & Sales 









Farm Owner 









a Cell entries represent per-cent difference between approval and disapproval of McCarthy. 
The more negative the entry, the greater the predominance of anti-McCarthy sentiment. 
b Occupation of respondent recorded, or of chief wage earner if respondent is a housewife. 
c Occupation of respondent recorded; housewives omitted from table. 
d Occupation of head of household recorded. 

persons were among the groups least opposed to the Senator. These 
findings presumably reflect the combined influences of age and 
education. The attitudes of the retired may have been influenced by 
several factors associated with age e.g., particular sensitivity to 
the rise of Communism and the decline of American prestige; greater 
political conservatism; and greater rigidity. Moreover, retired persons 
probably feel most acutely the effects of status deprivation because 
of both their decline in social importance and their disadvantageous 
economic position in a period of moderate inflation. 

Thus far, the analysis suggests that McCarthy's support was in 
many ways similar to Father Coughlin's. Both men derived strength 
from the lower classes and the rural population. They differed only in 
the relatively greater appeal of the Senator to self-employed business- 
men. These results would suggest that the differences in the ideologies 
of the two men are not paralleled by differences in the character of 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 333 

their support. However, when socio-economic status rather than oc- 
cupation is taken as an indicator of class, differing patterns of sup- 
port emerge for the Senator and for Coughlin. The Coughlin analysis 
indicated a high correlation between socio-economic status (a 
measure of the style of life of the respondent, largely reflecting in- 
come) and approval of the priest. Those of low status were much 
more likely to approve of him than those of high status. When the 
corresponding comparison is made for McCarthy, we find a much 
smaller, almost insignificant, association. Lower-status persons were 
slightly less likely to support McCarthy than the more privileged 
ones. This result is initially quite surprising, since both education 
and occupation, themselves highly correlated with socio-economic 
status, were, as we have seen, related to attitudes toward McCarthy. 
The solution to this apparent puzzle lies in the finding that when 
either education or occupation is held constant that is, when we 
compare those high or low on socio-economic status -within the same 
educational or occupational categories the data show that the 
higher the socio-economic-status level, the greater the proportion of 
McCarthy supporters. This finding holds true particularly among Re- 
publicans; in general, the socio-economic-status level had little effect 
on attitude toward McCarthy among Democrats of a given occupa- 
tional or educational level. Thus, while lower educational and oc- 
cupational status were associated with support for the Wisconsin 
Senator, within either category higher socio-economic status made 
for greater receptivity to his message among Republicans. 26 Perhaps 
the higher-income people within lower occupational or educational 
strata were precisely those who were most drawn to an ideology that 
attacked as pro-Communist both liberal lower-class-based politics 
and moderate, conservative old upper-class-elitist groups. ^ 

Some of the original essays suggested that McCarthy's strength re- 
flected the frustrations inherent in status discrepancies. In periods of 
full employment and widespread economic opportunity, some who 
rise economically do not secure the social status commensurate with 
their new economic position. Conversely, others, whose financial 
position has not improved at a corresponding rate (or has worsened) , 
find their social status relatively higher than their economic position. 
Such status incongruities were presumed to have created sharp re- 
sentments about general social developments, which predisposed in- 
dividuals to welcome McCarthy's attack on the elite and on the New 
Deal. Efforts to test these hypotheses with the data now available 

334 The Radical Right 

proved unfruitful. For the most part, these analytic efforts took the 
form of contrasting persons whose status attributes were discordant 
e.g., high education and low occupational status with those whose 
status determinants were consistent, both high or both low. Seem- 
ingly, either the original hypotheses were inadequate or these indica- 
tors are not refined enough to reflect serious status tensions. 

One as yet unpublished study, however, did find some empirical 
support for these assumptions. Robert Sokol attempted to see whether 
the subjective perception of status discrepancy ("felt status incon- 
sistency") was related to McCarthyism. 27 The analysis indicated that 
conscious concern with status inconsistency and McCarthyism were 
related: "The more strain, the greater will be the tendency to be a 
McCarthy supporter; with 62 per cent of the high-strain men being 
pro-McCarthy, in contrast with 47 per cent of those feeling a little 
strain and 39 per cent of those without any concern about the rel- 
ative ranks of their statuses." These findings held within different 
"analytic sub-groups. While much more work remains to be done to 
analyze the relationship between status strain and political protest, 
and between objective discrepancy and subjective strains, Sokol's 
research suggests that the general assumptions about the relation- 
ship of the status strains of an open society and the type of political 
protest represented by McCarthy may have some validity. 
*** The findings concerning the relation of education and occupa- 
tional status to support of McCarthy seem to confirm the hypothesis 
presented in the original essays concerning stratification factors and 
McCarthyism. Another hypothesis was that McCarthyism also re- 
flected strains inherent in the varying statuses of different ethnic 
jind religious groups in American society. It was assumed that Catho- 
lics and other recent immigrant groups with relatively low status, or 
with ethnic ties to neutral or Axis nations, were disposed to favor 
McCarthy, while those of high status or with ethnic links to Allied 
nations opposed the Senator. These generalizations also tend to be 
supported by survey data. It is clear, as has already been noted, that 
Catholics as a group were more pro-McCarthy than Protestants, who 
in turn were somewhat more favorable to him than were Jews. The 
strong relationship between religious affiliation and attitude toward 
McCarthy among supporters of the two parties may be seen in Table 
12, taken from the University of Michigan study, 28 

Within the Protestant group, the ranking of the different de- 
nominations with respect to sentiment toward McCarthy corre- 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 







on McCarthy 













Excess of Anti 
over Pro 













on McCarthy 














Excess of Anti 

over Pro 






N (51) (58) (55) (25) (18) 

SOURCE: Campbell and Cooper, op. cit., p. 149* 

sponded on the whole to their socio-economic status. As Table 13 
shows, the higher the status of the members of a denomination, the 
more antagonistic the group was toward the Wisconsin Senator. 



Attitude Toward McCarthy 

Per Cent 




of Group 




Agrees and 

High in SES ' 
















































336 The Radical Right 

Methodists constitute an exception to this generalization: although 
a relatively low-status group, they were more anti-McCarthy than 
the Lutherans or Presbyterians. The rank order of denominations 
in terms of McCarthy support is, with the exception of the Baptists, 
identical with that reported earlier for Coughlin (see Table 14). 
Baptists ranked relatively high in opposition to Coughlin and in sup- 
port for McCarthy. It is difficult to suggest any plausible explanation 
for this change in the position of the Baptists other than that they 
may have been particularly antagonistic to the Catholic Church, and 
hence unwilling to approve the political activities of a priest, yet not 
deterred from supporting a Catholic Senator, 



Coughlin 1938 McCarthy 1 952 

High Support Lutherans Baptists 

Presbyterians Lutherans 

Methodists Presbyterians 

Baptists Methodists 

Congregationalists Congregationalists 

Low Support Episcopalians Episcopalians 

Both the LN.R.A. and Roper surveys contain information con- 
cerning the ethnic origins of respondents which permits an elabora- 
tion of the relationship between ethnic and religious identification 
and McCarthy support (see Table 15). Unfortunately, the two studies 
differed greatly in the wording of questions on ethnicity. Because 
LN.R.A. asked for the country of ancestors, while Roper asked 
for the country of the respondents' grandparents, the Roper survey 
reported many more Protestants as simply "American" in back- 
ground. Among Catholics, too, the Roper survey reported a smaller 
proportion with German or British ancestry than did the LN.R.A. 
survey. On the other hand, I.N.R.A.'s request for country of an- 
cestors produced a large "don't know" or "no answer" group. About 
20 per cent of the whites did not reply to the question. 

Differences in attitude between the ethnic groups were more pro- 
nounced among Catholics than Protestants in both the Roper and the 
LN.R.A. studies. In the Roper survey, Irish Catholics were 18 per 
cent more favorable to the Senator than unfavorable, while "old 
American" Catholics were 11 per cent more negative than positive. 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 


Among Protestants, on the other hand, those of German origin were 
the most pro-McCarthy (2 per cent), while those of British an- 
cestry were most opposed (8 per cent). 



Per Cent Difference, Between Approvers and Disapproves 

Roper 1952 

Catholics (N) 

4th Generation Amer. (198) 11 

Ireland (81) +18 

Italy (61) +16 

Germany (54) +13 

Great Britain (13) * 

Poland (36) 6 

4th Generation Amer. (1190) 2 



Great Britain 




(29) +7 

(172) +2 

(102) 8 

(68) -3 

(96) -6 

(252) 7 

1.NJI.A. 1954 

Catholics (N) 

No Answer (252) 2 

Ireland (545) +5 

Italy (393) +8 

Germany & Austria (424) 6 

Great Britain (272) +4 

Poland (246) 2 

No Answer (1037) 22 

Ireland (487) -21 

Germany & Austria (1266) 19 

Great Britain (1814) 25 

Scand. & Holl. (851) 25 

Jews (245) 54 

Negroes (438) 13 

* Too few cases for stable estimates 

Results from both surveys show that Irish and Italian Catholics 
were among the most pro-McCarthy groups. The Roper data in- 
dicate that Germans, both Catholic and Protestant, were dispro- 
portionately in favor of McCarthy, but the I.N.R.A. materials 
do not confirm this finding. The explanation for this seeming in- 
consistency may lie in the differing formulation of the questions 
on ethnicity. It may be that McCarthy appealed successfully to the 
"Roper" Germans whose family had emigrated to the United States 
within the past three generations, and consequently retained emo- 
tional ties to Germany that made them receptive to McCarthy's iso- 
lationist appeal. "LN.R.A." Germans are likely to have been old- 
stock Americans and, like other "old American" groups, predisposed 
to disapprove of the Wisconsin Senator. 

In summary, it appears that the findings concerning ethnic and 
religious factors agree with the hypotheses suggested in the original 

338 The Radical Right 

essays that is, McCarthy was generally opposed by descendants of 
old American Protestant families, and he drew disproportionately 
from Catholics of recent immigrant background. The two minority 
groups whose circumstances have led them to identify with liberal 
Democratic groups and leaders, the Jews and the Negroes, were 
among those most strongly opposed to McCarthy. 

Thus far, the discussion has centered on the relationship between 
attitudes toward McCarthy and various background characteristics. 
Many of the original interpretations of the Senator also posited cer- 
tain attitudinal and personality characteristics as being linked to 
support for or opposition to McCarthy. It has been argued that he ap- 
pealed to isolationists, to those who were most hostile to international 
Communism, to ardent economic conservatives, to "authoritarian 
personalities," and to the bigoted. To specify the exact relationship 
between such attitudes and McCarthy support would require a more 
detailed analysis than is possible in this preliminary report. At this 
stage, I would like to summarize the relationships found between 
certain attitude items and opinions concerning McCarthy. 

There seems little doubt that isolationists i.e., those who opposed 
aid to foreign countries, disliked support of the United Nations, and 
favored strong measures in dealing with the Russians were more 
disposed to back the Wisconsin Senator than those who took a more 
internationalist position on such issues. 

McCarthy also drew disproportionately from economic conserva- 
tives. Measures of such attitudes as position on liberalism in general, 
laws to prevent strikes, a federal health program, and support of 
private development of national resources all indicate that the con- 
servative position on these issues was associated with greater support 
for McCarthy. 

Perhaps more significant than the fact that support of McCarthy 
correlated with conservative and isolationist political attitudes is that 
these relationships are on the whole so weak. Clearly, many per- 
sons who opposed the Senator's views on important issues reported 
that they approved of him, his committee, or his charges. Referring 
to the December, 1954, Gallup survey, completed after McCarthy 
was censured by the Senate, we find that many still supported him 
while holding opinions contrary to his. For example, one-third of 
those who preferred a peaceful-coexistence policy or who favored 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 





Attitude Toward McCarthy 
Pro Con 


Break Off Diplomatic 
Relations with Russia 



Withdraw from the 
United Nations 


Peaceful Coexistence Policy 

U.S. Should Support U.N. 


How to Handle the Russians 

Offensive War 

Keep Strong 

Peaceful Settlement 
Korean War Policy for U.S. 

Do as we did 

Keep trying for peace 

Go further militarily 

Be tough 

Pull out of Korea 
Give Economic Aid to Under- 
Developed Nations 



Blockading the Coast of 
Communist China 



Withdraw Foreign Aid From 
Nations Which Refuse to 
Co-operate with U.S. 





































































LNJLA. 1954 

LNJLA. 1954 

Dec. 1954 

Dec. 1954 

Roper 1952 

Roper 1952 

I.N.R.A. 1954 

Dec. 1954 

Dec. 1954 

340 The Radical Right 

the United Nations were opposed to the Senate censure. With re- 
spect to domestic matters, thirty per cent of those who described 
their political views as liberal rather than conservative were favorable 
toward McCarthy at the end of 1954. Thus a significant minority of 
liberals and internationalists were for the Senator throughout his 
brief career as a leader of the radical right. Conversely, most of 
those who took conservative and isolationist positions on these issues 
were opposed to or had no opinion concerning his political activities, 
though on any given issue they supported him more than did liberals 
or internationalists. 

A more complex relationship between opinion on domestic issues 
and McCarthyism than is indicated by this preliminary analysis of 
national survey data has been suggested by a study of attitudes 
toward McCarthy in a Vermont city. Martin Trow has suggested 
that the support of McCarthy by small businessmen reflected their 
perception of him as an opponent of the power elite as well as of 
unions and the liberal welfare state. He argued that those who fear 
the "growing concentration of economic power in government, 
unions, and business enterprises" saw these as "McCarthy's often 
thinly concealed targets." 29 To test this assumption, Trow divided 
his respondents into four political categories on the basis of their 
attitudes toward big business and trade unions. These were: (1) 
labor-liberals those who were favorable to trade unions and hostile 
to large corporations; (2) nineteenth-century liberals those who 
were opposed to trade unions and to large corporations; (3) moder- 
ate conservatives those who supported trade unions but were also 
favorable to large business; and (4) right-wing conservatives those 
who were hostile to unions and favorable to big business. In terms of 
this typology, the "nineteenth-century liberals" anti-big business 
and anti-trade unions should be most pro-McCarthy. Trow's data 
indicate that this combination of attitudes was in fact held more 
widely by small businessmen than by any other occupational stratum, 
and that those who held it, whether businessmen or not, were most 
likely to favor McCarthy. Three-fifths, or 60 per cent, of the "nine- 
teenth-century liberals" approved of McCarthy's methods, while 
among those in the other three categories, between 35 and 38 per 
cent indicated approval for McCarthy's methods. 30 Efforts at partial 
replication of Trow's analysis with the I.N.R.A. data did not yield 
comparable results since the labor-liberals were the most anti-Mc- 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 341 

Carthy group, while the other three groups, though somewhat more 
pro-McCarthy, were almost identical in their degree of support. 

At the moment, all that can be said is that two surveys made at 
different times in different places, and using different indicators of 
McCarthy sentiment and political attitudes, yielded differing results. 
The hypothesis must be placed in the category of the not proven. 

Efforts to account for adherence to extremist political ideologies, 
and to McCarthyism in particular, have suggested that such groups 
cannot be explained solely or even primarily by an analysis of the 
values and interests of their supporters. Rather, it has been argued 
that the support for extremist ideologies and conspiracy theories of 
politics is also related to personality structure i.e., that certain 
types of people find such politics congruent with their psychological 
needs. These hypotheses have often been linked to the findings in 
The Authoritarian Personality* 1 which suggested there is a definite 
personality type that is oriented toward strong leadership, is intol- 
erant, dislikes ambiguity, and so forth. 

Some of the essays reprinted here speculated along these lines 
with regard to the sources of McCarthy's support, suggesting, as I 
did, that he drew disproportionately from those with "personality 
frustration and repressions [that] result in the adoption of scape- 
goat sentiments." One of the earliest analyses of McCarthy support, 
Harold Hodges' study of a Wisconsin town, reported that "the statis- 
tically typical McCarthy supporter ... is more conformistic, agree- 
ing that there are too many 'oddballs' around, that the 'good' Amer- 
ican doesn't stand out among his fellow Americans, and that children 
should not develop hobbies which are rare or unusual. ... He 
expresses a more misanthropic social outlook, concurring with the 
statement that 'people are out to cheat you' and that there is 
'wickedness, cheating and corruption all about us.*" 32 The Sokol 
community survey, discussed earlier, also reported a strong relation- 
ship between personality traits and support of McCarthy. Those who 
were more intolerant of ambiguity were also more pro-McCarthy. 
This relationship held even when examined within the categories 
of education and religious affiliation, two variables that have been 
shown to affect such attitudes. 33 To test these hypotheses on a 
broader scale, data taken from a national survey made by the 
National Opinion Research Center (N.O.R.C.) in 1953, which con- 

342 The Radical Right 

tained items taken from the original Authoritarian Personality scale, 
have been reanalyzed here. 34 

Propensity to agree with items designed to measure authoritarian 
predispositions correlated highly with attitudes toward McCarthy 
within educational, occupational, or religious groupings. For example, 
within the three educational categories of college, high school, and 
grammar school, those high on the Authoritarian Personality scale 
were much more likely to have approved of the McCarthy com- 
mittee in June, 1953, than those with low scores (Table 17). Seem- 
ingly, reactions to the Senator were not only a function of social 
position, perception of self-interest, or party identification, but were 
also affected by that component of "character" that the Authoritarian 
Personality scale measures. 

It is significant to note that the largest differences in response to 
McCarthy occurred within the category of the college-educated. 
Those among them who were low on the Authoritarian Personality 
scale were least likely to approve of the Senator, but the college- 
educated who were high on the measure of authoritariansim gave 
more support to the McCarthy committee than any segment of those 
who had not gone beyond grade school. Since various studies have 
indicated that propensity to give an authoritarian response is in- 
versely related to education, this finding suggests that the Authoritar- 
ian Personality scale serves best as a predictor of attitude predisposi- 
tions among the well educated. Among the less educated, a high 
authoritarianism score reflects in some part attitudes common to the 
group and that are also subject to modification by more education. If 
someone is well educated and still gives authoritarian responses, then 
the chances are that he really has a basic tendency to react in an 
authoritarian fashion. However, as Table 17 indicates, there is a 
relationship between propensity to give "authoritarian" responses and 
support of McCarthy within the three education groups. 

Although McCarthy never attacked minority ethnic groups and 
seemed to have consciously tried to avoid linking Jews to Commu- 
nism, many of his critics have felt certain that McCarthyism appealed 
to religious and racial bigots. Liberals have generally believed that 
anti-Semitism and rightist politics are associated, and have therefore 
assumed that, while any given form of right-wing extremism may 
not be overtly anti-Semitic, such movements attract anti-Semites. 
With respect to McCarthyism, there has been the further assumption 
that those who believed in Jews as a hidden source of social ills 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 343 






Attitude Toward McCarthy Committee 
Difference ~ 

Between J o 

Education Approvers ^ &3 

and Authori- and ^ -g 

tarianism Disapprovers ^ g ^ ^y 

Grammar School 28 

High Authoritarian 56% 14% 30% (183) 

Middle 42 57 14 29 (229) 

Low 43 44 16 39 (57) 

High School 

High 68 78 10 12 (139) 

Middle 49 65 16 19 (252) 

Low 37 61 24 15 (188) 


High 75 85 10 5 (20) 

Middle 46 66 20 14 (84) 

Low 10 49 39 11 (132) 

High equals an authoritarian response on at least four items; medium means an authori- 
tarian score on two or three items; low indicates no or one authoritarian response out of 
the five items. 

would also be disposed to believe in a hidden domestic Communist 
conspiracy that had infiltrated the government. The evidence avail- 
able from the various studies bearing on this issue, however, does 
not bear out these assumptions. 

The I.N.R.A. pre-election study in 1954 asked respondents 
whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a Congressional 
candidate if they knew he was Jewish. About 3 per cent said they 
would be more likely to vote for a Jewish candidate; 17 per cent 
gave an anti-Semitic response, saying that they would be more 
likely to oppose a Jewish candidate; while the remaining four-fifths 
of the sample said knowledge of Jewish background would not affect 
their vote decision. Comparing the relationship between sentiments 
toward Jewish Congressional candidates and attitudes to candidates 
who were pro- or anti-McCarthy produced the startling result that 
the small group of philo-Semites those who were favorable to Jew- 

344 The Radical Right 

ish candidates were much more likely to be pro-McCarthy than 
those who were against Jewish Congressional candidates. The latter 
were also much more likely to be anti-McCarthy than those who said 
their vote would not be influenced by the candidate's being Jewish. 




(Jews Omitted) 

Attitudes Toward a Jewish Candidate 

Immaterial More Likely 

Attitudes to More Likely to Whether to Vote 

McCarthy Vote for Jew or Not Against a Jew 

Pro 26% 16% 12% 

Anti 29 30 38 
Difference between 

pro and anti responses 3 14 26 

N (234) (7557) (1640) 

This result is so surprising as to suggest the existence of an inter- 
vening factor associated with one or the other attitude so as to pro- 
duce a spurious result. To check on such a possibility, the relation- 
ship between McCarthyism and anti-Semitism was analyzed within 
education groups, religious groups, and party-identification groups. 
The finding, however, still occurred in all. Among the college-ed- 
ucated, as among the high-school- or grammar-school-educated, the 
same pattern held up the small per cent of those who were philo- 
Jewish were more pro-McCarthy. Catholics were less anti-Semitic 
than Protestants, but within both religious groups McCarthy support 
and anti-Semitism were inversely related. The relationship was also 
sustained within the three political categories of Democrats, Repub- 
licans, and Independents. 35 

If we assume that there is some reliability in this result, that it 
truly measured popular attitudes at the time, it is conceivable that 
the result is a product of McCarthy's association with various minor- 
ity ethnics including Jews, The I.N.R.A. study was made after Mc- 
Carthy's association with Roy Cohn and David Schein, two men 
publically identified as Jews, had become a matter of public dis- 
cussion and controversy. This identification may have led many rank- 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 345 

End-file supporters of the Senator to perceive Jews as being on their 
side. All this is highly speculative, but the fact remains that the 
LN.R.A. results do produce a result that reverses any assumptions 
about a positive relationship between McCarthyism and anti-Semi- 

The finding that McCarthy supporters were not prone to accept 
anti-Semitic beliefs is reinforced by a report of a November, 1954, 
N.O.R.C. study based on a national sample of 1200 Christian re- 
spondents. This survey found no relationship between attitudes to- 
ward McCarthy and willingness to accept Jews as next-door neigh- 
bors. When educational differences were controlled, no consistent 
linkage between the two attitudes could be observed. 36 (However, 
since writing this article, my own further analysis of the data of this 
study has indicated that there is a slight relationship between re- 
jecting Jews as neighbors and being pro-McCarthy in the total 

The lack of a positive relationship between McCarthyism and anti- 
Semitism may reflect a more general absence of any relationship 
between ethnic prejudice and McCarthy support. A 1954 Gallup 
survey inquired, "Would you object to having your children attend 
a school where the majority of pupils are Negro?" Over half of the 
sample (about 55 per cent) indicated they would object. When the 
sample was divided between followers and opponents of McCarthy 
within educational categories, there was no consistent relationship 
between the willingness to send one's children to a predominantly 
Negro school and attitudes toward McCarthy. The followers of the 
Senator were no more and no less liberal on this issue than his 
opponents. 37 

But if these surveys challenge the liberal intellectuals' belief that 
McCarthyites were generally intolerant people, there is some evidence 
to suggest that at least one type of anti-Semitism may have con- 
tributed to a small part of McCarthy's support. Data from the 1953 
N.O.R.C. survey suggest that those individuals who believed that 
Jews were disproportionately apt to be Communists were somewhat 
more likely to approve of the McCarthy committee than those who 
did not mention Jews. This survey, taken early in the Senator's 
career as chairman of the Senate investigating committee on govern- 
ment operations, found that a majority (60 per cent) approved of 
Ms committee. Of the 8 per cent in the sample who mentioned Jews 

346 The Radical Right 

as being disproportionately Communist, 69 per cent approved of the 
committee, while among respondents who did not list Jews, 59 per 
cent reacted favorably to McCarthy. While these results differ from 
those found in the other surveys, further specification of the relation- 
ship within social categories reduces their significance as indicators 
of greater anti-Semitic sentiments among McCarthyites, When ele- 
mentary-school-, high-school-, and college-educated respondents are 
examined separately, the relationship holds among those who did 
not go beyond elementary school. Of this low-educated group, those 
who were pro-McCarthy more often mentioned Jews as being Com- 
munist than did those who were anti-McCarthy. Within the category 
of the high-school-educated, there was no relationship between pro- 
pensity to identify Jews with Communists and attitudes toward the 
McCarthy committee, while among the college-educated the relation- 
ship was reversed. In this stratum, presumably the best informed 
of the three, the anti-McCarthy group more often saw Jews as 
disproportionately Communist. 

The four surveys are not, of course, directly comparable, for many 
reasons. Cohn and Schein were not an issue when the 1953 N.O.R.C. 
interviews were taken, but had become a major source of controversy 
by the time of the 1954 studies, at which period McCarthy had lost 
considerable support. More important perhaps is the fact that the 
studies were asking very different questions. The 1954 surveys were 
touching on general attitudes toward Jews, while the 1953 poll was 
tapping the reactions of the very small group who see Jews as more 
Communistically inclined than non-Jews. Most of the respondents 
felt that "only a few" Jews are Communists. 38 In fact, studies of 
the social base of American Communism indicate that while the 
overwhelming majority of Jews have opposed Communism, Jews 
have contributed disproportionately to the support of the American 
Communist Party. 39 Those, therefore, who mention Jews as Com- 
munists may be reflecting greater knowledge and concern about 
Communism rather than anti-Semitism as such. 

Analysis of other data in the 1953 N.O.R.C. survey tends to 
sustain the interpretation that the fact that McCarthy supporters were 
more likely to mention Jews as disproportionately Communist re- 
flects concern with the Communist issue rather than anti-Semitism. 
Respondents were asked whether they had heard any criticism of 
Jews in the last six months. About one-fifth, 21 per cent, reported 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 347 

that they had heard such criticism. Those whose acquaintances in- 
cluded critics of Jews were proportionately less favorable to Mc- 
Carthy than those who did not report hearing anti-Semitic remarks. 40 
The respondents mentioned the specific types of attacks they heard. 
These break down into a variety of criticisms of Jews as having 
too much political or economic power, being unscrupulous in busi- 
ness, being socially clannish, and those involving charges that Jews 
are more likely than others to be Communists, or spies and traitors. 
Most of the anti-Jewish criticisms reported, however, did not con- 
cern Communism or spying. Individuals who mentioned hearing anti- 
Semitic comments not involving Communism were most likely of all 
to be anti-McCarthy, while the small group that mentioned having 
heard that Jews were Communists tended to show a larger than 
average support for the Wisconsin Senator. These results suggest 
that "normal anti-Semitic" stereotypes that is, those concerning 
presumed negative Jewish economic or social traits were more com- 
mon in the social environment of people who were against the Sen- 
ator than of those who were for him. 

Given the limitations of the measures of anti-Semitism and the 
varying results in the three surveys, it is impossible to draw any 
conclusions about a relationship between anti-Semitism and pro- 
pensity to support or oppose McCarthy. 41 The available evidence 
clearly does not sustain the thesis that McCarthy received dispro- 
portionate support from anti-Semites. 

The findings from the various surveys reported on in this section 
tend to sustain many of the generalizations made in the original 
essays. McCarthy's support was differentially based on the lower 
strata of manual workers, the less educated, and, within the middle 
class, farmers and self-employed businessmen. From a political stand- 
point, he recruited more heavily from the conservative groups, from 
Republicans, backers of right-wing policies on domestic issues, isola- 
tionists, and those most concerned with the need for a "tough" anti- 
Russian policy. In terms of religious and ethnic characteristics, he was 
disproportionately backed by his Catholic co-religionists, by mem- 
bers of lower-status Protestant denominations, and by those of recent 
immigrant stock, particularly Irish and German Catholics. 

The evidence does not bear out any assumptions about a link 
between ethnic prejudice, particularly anti-Semitism, and McCarthy- 

348 The Radical Right 

Ism. It does, however, argue for the thesis that McCarthy drew 
disproportionate support from those whose personality traits or social 
background led them to give "authoritarian" responses to items from 
the Authoritarian Personality scale that is, persons who were gen- 
erally intolerant of ambiguity, approved of strong leadership, and 
favored harsh punishment for violations of social norms. 

It is difficult to state whether these and other results reported 
earlier sustain the generalization that the appeal of McCarthyism 
reflected the status strains endemic in an open, prosperous society 
in which many individuals change their relative economic status. 
Sokofs study, specifically designed to test these hypotheses, does bear 
them out on a subjective level. In the Massachusetts community 
studied, those most concerned with the problem of status discrepancy 
were more favorable to McCarthy. However, his data and the studies 
analyzed here do not validate the assumption with respect to "ob- 
jective" sources of status strain (high education and low economic 
position, for example). The evidence bearing on the belief that Mc- 
Carthy appealed to traditional "populist" ideology, directed against 
organized labor and big business, also produces contradictory or 
ambiguous results. 

In concluding the discussion about McCarthy, it may be worth 
noting again that the evidence indicates that McCarthy did not 
have widespread support either in 1952 or in 1954. Only 10 per 
cent of those questioned by Roper in 1952 felt that most of those 
accused by McCarthy were actually Communists. More significant, 
when asked in the same survey who among a list of names had done 
the best job of handling the Communist problem "here in America," 
only 7 per cent mentioned McCarthy, while from the same list 
19 per cent singled him out for unsatisfactory handling of the prob- 
lem. Thus, long before Eisenhower's election, intense negative feelings 
about McCarthy were seemingly much more common than strong 
favorable sentiments. And in the 1954 pre-election I.N.R.A. survey, 
32 per cent gave anti-McCarthy responses on an index based on 
three questions about McCarthy, while only 15 per cent gave 
favorable answers. It seems clear from these and other surveys 
that the form of radical rightism represented by McCarthy, while 
more politically palatable than that of Coughlin or the John Birch 
Society, nevertheless, like them, aroused much more hostility than 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 349 


The Supporters of the John Birch Society 

The analysis of the supporters of the John Birch Society presents 
some special problems, requiring that it be handled differently from 
the way in which the two earlier "radical-rightist" tendencies were 
treated. Because it lacks a nationally known leader, espouses a vim" 
lent and extremist ideology which gives rise to attacks on the moderate 
leaders of both major parties as Communists, and upholds an eco- 
nomic program promoting the interests and values of the small 
stratum of moderately well-to-do businessmen and professionals, it' 
has appealed to a much smaller segment of the general public than 
did Coughlin or McCarthy. Further, the Society is only dimly known 
to many people. For example, a Gallup Survey that inquired into ; 
attitudes toward the John Birch Society in the beginning of 1962 
found that over two-thirds of those interviewed had not heard of it, 
or else had no opinion of it (Table 19). Among those who did ex- 
press opinions, negative judgments outnumbered positive ones by five 
to one: 5 per cent favored the Society and 26 per cent opposed it 



Favorable to the Society 5% 

Unfavorable 26 

No Opinion 27 

Have Not Heard of the Society 42 


These results were obtained four years after the Society was first 
organized, and over a year after it began to receive widespread 
attention in the general press, as well as sharp criticism from liberal 
political leaders and journals. 

Because the bulk of the national sample had no opinion on the 
Birchers, certain limitations are imposed in drawing conclusions from 
the data. Comparisons between population sub-groups, as presented 


The Radical Right 





Attitudes on Birch Society 

Don't Know, 
Pro Con Haven't Heard 








































































































Business, executive 





Clerical, sales 





Skilled labor 





Unskilled, serv. 










Non-labor force 


























50 and over 










Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 351 

for the Coughlin and McCarthy data, must be interpreted with ex- 
treme caution, since they may at times be quite misleading. In analyz- 
ing support for the Birchers in terms of such categories, it is neces- 
sary to compare such small percentages as three per cent pro-Birch 
among Democrats and seven per cent among Republicans. Such 
comparisons are made all the more difficult because the proportion 
of respondents without opinions varies widely from sub-group to 
sub-group, following the pattern typically associated with political 
knowledge, opinion, and participation. 

As Table 20 shows, the proportion without an opinion is 44 per 
cent among those who went to college, but 85 per cent among the 
grammer-school-educated. Further examination of the table discloses 
that the college-trained have a higher proportion of Birch supporters 
and also Birch opponents than do the grade-school-educated. To 
take another example, professionals appear much more pro-Birch 
than fanners, if one looks only at the percentage of the two occupa- 
tions that is favorable to the Society; however, 60 per cent of the 
professionals expressed an opinion, as contrasted with 15 per cent 
of the farmers. (To emphasize the differing contributions of various 
population sub-groups to opinion, both pro and con, on the Birch 
Society, Table 21 is included, based on the same data as Table 20, 
but showing the relative contribution of sub-groups to the pro-Birch 
and anti-Birch groups, rather than the opinion distribution of the 
sub-groups on the Birch issue.) 

The low level of opinion on the Society has additional implica- 
tions for an analysis of Birch support. These concern the extent 
of possible latent support. One cannot assume that, because the low- 
income element (family income under $4000) of the population di- 
vided 4 to 1 against the Birchers in 1962, the same division of 
opinion would obtain at a time when, perhaps, a majority of these 
persons will know of, and have views regarding, the Birchers. At 
the time of the Gallup Survey, only 20 per cent of low-income 
respondents had an opinion on the organization. One cannot guess 
whether the balance of judgment would remain the same if 50 per 
cent or 80 per cent of this group had opinions to offer. In short, 
under different conditions arising either within the country or out- 
side it, and with different policies and techniques pursued by the 
Society itself, the Birchers may come to the attention of segments 
of the population they are not presently reaching, and the relative 


The Radical Right 




Attitude Groups 

Total Don't Know 

Sample Pro-Birch Anti-Birch Haven't Heard 







































































































Business, executive 





Clerical, sales 





Skilled labor 










Non-labor force 





Unskilled, serv. 


























50 and over 














Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 353 

distribution of supporters and opponents within different analytic 
categories may become quite different. 

Given these difficulties in interpreting the results of the national 
survey, I shall not discuss them in great detail. It is possible, 
however, to specify some of the factors that are associated with 
opinion toward the Society by concentrating on an analysis of atti- 
tudes within the one state in the Union in which the Society has 
become an important election issue and source of controversy 
California. The California Poll, a state-wide survey organization, 
reports that in January, 1962, 82 per cent of a sample of 1100 
Californians had heard of the Society. The national Gallup Survey, 
cited earlier, which was taken at about the same time, indicates 
that among respondents in the three Pacific Coast states, 79 per 
cent had heard of the Society as contrasted with 58 per cent in 
the nation as a whole. 42 The salience of the Birch issue in California 
in 1962 can hardly be disputed: at the time, two California congress- 
men were avowed members of the organization; the Attorney Gen- 
eral of the State issued a detailed report on the Society that was 
extensively reported and discussed in the newspapers; the Repub- 
lican Assembly, meeting to endorse candidates for the 1962 primaries, 
spent considerable time debating the Party's position with respect to 
the Society; and both gubernatorial candidates, Governor Edmund 
Brown and former Vice-President Nixon, vied in attacking the 
Birchites. 43 

Given the salience of the Birch issue in California politics, and 
the high degree of public knowledge of the organization, findings for 
the state of California may be interpreted with somewhat greater 
confidence than the national data. The January, 1962, California Poll 
permitted the construction of a measure of Birch support and op- 
position similar to that used for McCarthy in the LN.R.A. Survey. 
The Poll inquired first whether respondents would be more or less 
likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate who welcomed Birch 
Society support, and second whether they would be more or less 
likely to vote for a candidate who rejected the Society's endorsement. 
From responses on these two questions, respondents were divided into 
three groups: those who were sympathetic to the Birch Society 
on at least one question; those who said that the Birch issue would 
not affect their vote; and those who were unsympathetic to the 
Birch Society on one or both questions. A fourth group contained 
those who did not have an opinion on either question, together 

354 The Radical Right 

with persons who had never heard of the Society. Table 22 gives the 
distribution among California respondents in these four categories. 





Favorable , 6% 

Neutral 15 

Unfavorable 41 

No Opinion* 

Never Heard 38 

N (1186) 

a No Opinion includes 2 per cent 
who gave contradictory responses. 

It is clear that in California, as in the nation as a whole, the 
bulk of those with opinions about the Birchers were hostile. Among 
the national sample, as we have seen, unfavorable replies outnum- 
bered favorable by a magnitude of five to one (26 per cent to 5 
per cent) ; in California, the negative exceeded the positive by seven 
to one (41 per cent to 6 per cent). Exact comparisons are, of 
course, impossible since the questions posed were so different. More- 
over, it might be argued that the neutral category in California, those 
who reported that it made no difference whether a candidate was 
pro-Birch Society or not the anti-anti-Birchers, so to speak were 
"soft on Birchism." In spite of the propaganda emphasizing the 
anti-democratic propensities of the Birch Society and its attacks on 
Eisenhower and other major figures as Communists or dupes, these 
persons were still willing to say that a candidate's involvement in 
the Birch Society would not prejudice them against him. 

An examination of the data reported in Tables 23 and 24 point 
up a number of factors associated with Birch support in California. 
A supporter of the Society is more likely to be a Republican than 
a Democrat, to live in Southern California, to be better educated, and 
to be in a higher economic category. Occupational variations as 
such do not seem to be significantly related to attitudes toward 
the Birchers, with the exception of the fact that the small group of 
farmers in the sample seem to be the most strongly pro-Birch among 
the vocational categories. Differences between religious groups are 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 







Attitudes on Birch Society 
Neut Con DK/HH Total 






































( 67) 


No. California 







So. California 








Grade School 







High School 







1-2 Coll./Trade 







3+ College 



























































Self-empl business 






( 67) 















Unskilled & service 













( 35) 

Ret'd, etc. 




































50 and over 















The Radical Right 




Attitude Groups 

Characteristics Sample Pro-Birch Neutral Anti-Birch DK/HH 


































No. California 






So. California 






Grade School 






High School 






1-2 Coll. or Trade 






3+ College 































































Unskilled & service 

' 22 











Ret'd, etc. 































50 and over 











N (1186) 

N (73) 

N (176) 

N (488) 

N (449) 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 


small, although Catholics are somewhat less likely to back the Birch 
Society than are Protestants. 

Since party identification appears so crucial in determining atti- 
tude toward the Birch Society, it is possible that some of the above- 
mentioned relationships are indirectly a consequence of political 
affiliation. For example, the political commitment of Protestants 
and Catholics varies greatly. In California, Protestants divide 50-50 
in allegiance to the major parties, whereas among Catholics, Demo- 
crats outnumber Republicans 4 to 1. These results suggest that the 
Democratic commitment of Catholics may account for their slightly 
greater opposition to the Birch Society. And in fact we find that when 
religious groups are compared within party categories Catholics are 
slightly more likely to favor the Birch Society than are Protestants 44 
(Table 25). 





Party and 























Attitude Toward Birch Society 
Don't Know or 
Never Heard Total 





100% (387) 

100% (206) 

100% (380) 

100% (57) 

When the effect of education on attitudes toward the Birch Society 
is analyzed within party groups, the data suggest little difference 
among Democrats according to education. If anything, better-edu- 
cated Democrats are more likely to be more anti-Birch. Among 
Republicans, however, greater education is associated with being 
pro-Birch. To a considerable extent these variations would seem to 
be a product of socio-economic status. That is, with increasing eco- 
nomic level, Republicans are more disposed to support the Birch 
Society, while Democrats at higher-status levels are somewhat 
more inclined to oppose the organization than their less-privileged 
party brethren (Table 26). 


The Radical Right 






Attitude on Birch Society 
Don't Know or 
Party and SES Pro Neutral Against Never Heard Total N 

























100% (109) 

100% (358) 

100% (218) 

100% (126) 

100% (274) 

100% ( 68) 

The data clearly reflect the strong connection between attitudes 
toward the Birch Society and basic party commitment a relation- 
ship that is hardly surprising, given the tenor of the organization. 
Basically., the Birch Society appeals most to well-to-do Republicans, 
and somewhat more to the Catholics among them than to the 
Protestants. These findings suggest that the Society's appeal is most 
effective among those to whom economic conservatism and fear of 
: Communism are crucial issues. 

Evidence for this interpretation may be drawn from an analysis 
of attitudes toward the Birch Society as related to preferences among 
likely contenders for the G.O.P. Presidential nomination in 1964, 
and as related to opinions on the importance of the threat of internal 
Communism. (The first comparison is made only for Republicans.) 
Among Republicans who supported the Birch Society, almost three- 
fifths (59 per cent) favored Senator Goldwater for President in 1964 
(Table 27). Conversely, while former Vice-President Nixon was the 
leading candidate among the other categories, Republicans who op- 
posed the Birch Society contained a larger proportion of Rockefeller 
backers than did any other opinion groups. Examined in terms of 
the attitudes of the supporters of the different candidates, the data 
show that 71 per cent of the Rockefeller partisans were anti-Birch, 
as contrasted with 56 per cent of the Nixon supporters, and 45 per 
cent of the Goldwater advocates. Clearly, Birchism and general 
political conservatism were strongly related among California Republi- 
cans in 1962. 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 359 






Opinion of Birch Society 


Don't Know or 






Never Heard 


























Don't Know 

















Among followers of both parties, attitudes toward the Birchers 
are influenced by views on the inportance of internal Communism as 
a threat to the nation. Three-fourths of Birch supporters see the dan- 
ger of domestic Communism as great, as contrasted with slightly 
more than half of the neutral group and a little less than half of the 
anti-Birch element. Those perceiving minimal threat from internal 
Communism constituted 4 per cent of the pro-Birchers, 14 per cent 
of the neutrals, and 20 per cent of the anti-Bkchers (Table 28). 
(The same relationship between Birch opinion and perceived threat 
holds when Republicans and Democrats are taken separately, al- 
though Republicans more often than Democrats perceive the threat 
as high.) 

There is also a difference between supporters and opponents of 
the Society who agree that the internal Communist threat is great 
in their opinion of the adequacy of existing agencies dealing with 
the problem. Approximately three-fifths of the Society's opponents 
who agree that domestic Communism is a major problem feel that 
it is not being adequately dealt with, as compared with four-fifths of 
the Society's supporters. Thus, those who like the Society differ 
sharply from those who dislike it in their evaluation of the extent 
of the threat and the way it is being handled. Considering both 
opinions together, we find that twice the proportion of the former 
group (60 per cent) feels that the threat is great and that it is being 
inadequately handled, compared to the latter (30 per cent). 


The Radical Right 




Opinion on Birch Society 

Don't Know or 





Haven't Heard 






















N (67) 

N (173) 

N (471) 

N (407) 

N (1118) 

Perception of 





Neither the national Gallup Survey nor the California Poll included 
questions concerning attitudes on issues other than those reported 
above. However, a questionnaire study conducted in the San Fran- 
cisco Bay Area in the spring of 1962, primarily for the purpose of 
studying opinions on peace issues, included a question on the John 
Birch Society and other attitudes relevant to this investigation. Though 
designed to secure a representative sample of the Bay Area pop- 
ulation, the survey suffered from defects not uncommon in surveys 
utilizing self -administered questionnaires as opposed to interviews 
that is, a heavy bias in the direction of responses by the better 
educated. 45 Forty-seven per cent of those who answered the question- 
naire had at least some college education and two-thirds were engaged 
in non-manual occupations. It is impossible, therefore, to draw any 
reliable conclusions from this survey as to the social characteristics 
of Birch supporters in the San Francisco region. But since the study 
did contain a number of attitude items on a variety of issues, and 
because the social characteristics of Birch supporters and opponents 
corresponded on the whole with the findings of the California Poll, 
a brief report on its results seems warranted. 46 

Of particular interest in this survey were a number of questions 
dealing with attitudes toward minority ethnic and religious groups. 
Respondents were asked, "In choosing your friends and associates, 
how do you feel about the following types of people?" Response 
categories were, "Would rather not deal with," "Feel some reserva- 
tions about dealing with," and "Feel the same about them as others." 
It was found that those approving the Birch Society (9 per cent) 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 361 

tended to be more prejudiced against Negroes and Mexicans than 
those who opposed the organization. 47 The pro-Birch group was also 
somewhat more hostile to Orientals and Jews than the opposing 
element, but the differences were relatively minor. The findings held 
when respondents of differing educational attainment were treated 
separately, indicating that, despite the greater prejudice of the less 
educated generally, Birch supporters tended to show more prejudice 
than Birch opponents. 





Proportion Expressing Prejudice Among: 
Prejudiced Toward: Pro-Birch Group Anti-Birch Group 

Negroes 53% 37% 

Mexicans 38 27 

Orientals 22 17 

Jews 15 11 

Jehovah's Witnesses 44 40 

N (42) (303) 

Catholics 15 7 8 

(26) (193) 

a Data presented through the courtesy of Robert Schutz of the Northern California Lobby 

for Peace and Thomas Tissue, graduate assistant in sociology. 

b Only responses by Protestants are presented N=26 Pro-Birch, N=193 Anti-Birch. 

Supporters of the Birch Society were less willing to grant civil 
liberties to Communists, atheists, and pacifists than those unfavor- 
able to the organization; they were also less likely to feel that search 
warrants should be required of police entering a house, more likely 
to favor censorship of "crime comic books," and more likely to deny 
the right of public meetings to those opposing "our form of govern- 
ment," However, it is important to note that degree of education 
tended to have a much greater effect on attitude than did opinion of 
the Birch Society. For example, college-educated Birch supporters 
were more inclined to allow Communists to speak in their community 
than were Birch opponents who had not attended college (38 per cent 
versus 28 per cent). Supporters of the Society also exhibit more prej- 
udice toward Negroes and Mexicans, although they do not register 
a significantly higher degree of anti-Semitism than the population at 

362 The Radical Right 

large. In all likelihood, more refined and comprehensive analysis of 
various sorts of ethnic and religious prejudice will be necessary before 
definitive conclusions may be reached regarding the relationship, 
or relationships, of these phenomena to current forms of right-wing 

Thus far, I have omitted any discussion of the fact that the Birch 
Society is much stronger in Southern than in Northern California. 
In fact, the data from the California Poll survey discussed here and 
a later one completed in May, 1962 (too late to be analyzed and 
reported in detail here) indicate that California support for the 
Society is largely a phenomenon of the south. It has even less 
backing in Northern California than in most other sections of the 

The explanation for the variations between the two sections would 
seem to lie largely in certain differences in their community structure. 
Northern California, centered around San Francisco, is the old, 
established part of the State. It was the original dominant center of 
population. Los Angeles and Southern California have emerged as 
major population centers only since World War I, and their really 
rapid mass growth occurred after 1940. Although Northern California 
has continued to increase in population, its major center, San Fran- 
cisco, has grown little for many decades. There are many old 
families in the Bay Area who represent four and five generations 
of wealth, the descendants of those who made their money in mining, 
commerce, or railroads in the first decades after statehood, from 1850- 
80. Wealth in Los Angeles, on the other hand, is almost exclusively 
nouveaux riches^ and the well-to-do there possess the attitudes to- 
ward politics and economics characteristic of this stratum. They are 
more likely to back the rightist groups that oppose the welfare state, 
the income tax, and trade unions, and, lacking political and cultural 
sophistication, are more prone to accept conspiracy interpretations 
of the strength behind liberal or welfare measures. There is little 
that is stabilized or institutionalized in Southern California. New, 
rapidly expanding centers of population lack a traditional leadership 
structure accustomed to the responsibilities of running community 
institutions and supportive of the rights of various groups to share 
in community decisions and authority. Ethnic and racial tensions 
are high in the south, and whereas in the north community leaders 
co-operate to repress any potential conflict, in the south there is 
little co-operation to ease such tensions. 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 363 

Some evidence for the hypothesis that the strength of the Birch 
Society in Southern California (and in Arizona, Texas, and Florida, 
as well) is related to the tensions of population growth and community 
integration may be found in the second (May) California Poll. This 
survey inquired among those not native to the state as to when they 
moved to California. When respondents are divided between those 
who have been in the state more, or less, than 15 years, the data 
indicate that a larger proportion of the supporters of the Society (39 
per cent) are among those who migrated to the state since World 
War II than is true among opponents (29 per cent). Unfortunately, 
there are no available data that bear directly on the political effects 
of social mobility; that is, the extent to which the experience of a 
change in socio-economic position, up or down the social hierarchy, 
is related to these political issues. The California Poll data do clearly 
suggest, however, that respondents whose educational and occupa- 
tional attainments are not congruent e.g., manual workers who went 
to college, or those in higji-status positions with little education are 
more likely to be pro-Birch than others within their strata whose 
statuses on these two stratification dimensions are roughly similar. 
These findings (based unfortunately on far too few cases of Birch 
supporters to be significant) are in line with the assumption that 
social mobility and/or status discrepancies predispose those involved 
in such experiences to accept extremist forms of politics. 

The support the John Birch Society has received is seemingly some- 
what different from the radical-rightist movements discussed earlier. 
As compared to them, it has drawn more heavily from ideological 
conservatives, those committed to the Republican Party, and, within 
the ranks of the Republicans, from among the more well-to-do and 
better educated. 48 Twenty-two per cent of high economic level, 
college-educated Republicans in the California Poll were favorable 
to the Birchers, as compared with 6 per cent in the sample as a 
whole. 49 As a group advocating economic conservatism, the Society 
naturally has little appeal for the economically deprived. It is difficult 
to see a movement with so little popular appeal and with so con- 
spiratorial a view of the American political process making head- 
way among the general population. But the considerable progress 
it has made among well-to-do Republicans who can afford to support 
their political convictions financially may mean that the Birch Society 
will be able to maintain the impression of a powerful mass-supported 
group for some time to come. 50 

364 The Radical Right 


In this preliminary report on an analysis of the social bases of 
the three major "radical-rightist" movements in the thirties, fifties, 
and sixties, I have deliberately avoided any detailed effort to inter- 
pret the data in terms of general sociological theories of political 
behavior or to analyze them in relation to the larger tensions in 
American life. This is in large part because I have already written 
extensively on these matters, both in the original "Radical Right" 
essay reprinted here, and in the book Political Man. 51 The data 
reported here have been analyzed so as to test the validity of the 
hypotheses presented in these earlier discussions of the sources of 
extremist political beliefs. In addition, these quantitative findings 
represent only the first step in an effort to understand the factors 
underlying recurrent support for "right-wing radicalism" in this 

The popular support given to right-wing extremism must be sepa- 
rated into a number of components. Many of those who backed 
Coughlin, McCarthy, and the Birch Society may have done so in 
ignorance of their attacks on the democratic process as such. Con- 
versely, of course, many who are basically intolerant of democratic 
pluralism and diversity have been hostile to each of these political 
tendencies. As I have noted elsewhere, 52 prior attachments to specific 
organizations or values have often led intolerant people to "contradict 
themselves" and oppose specific forms of intolerant politics. Thus, 
Southern racial bigots, committed to the Democratic Party and 
opposed to Catholics, may have opposed Coughlin or McCarthy, as 
Catholics and opponents of "their party." 

Although there may be some individuals and social groups who 
have been attracted to all three rightist tendencies Peter Viereck 
suggests the not unlikely possibility that many Coughlin followers 
later became McCarthy supporters and there is some evidence that 
the more well-to-do, conservative supporters of McCarthy have ap- 
peared again as backers of the John Birch Society, the three 
"movements" do differ considerably in their predominant appeal. 
Coughlin was primarily successful in attracting a following among 
Catholics and among the economically deprived. Although he gained 
much rural support, his main base was among the unemployed and 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 365 

the poor workers. Negroes, though heavily for Roosevelt, were 
also quite favorable to Coughlin. While Senator McCarthy, too, 
was supported disproportionately by Catholics and the lower 
classes as contrasted with Protestants and the urban salaried middle 
class, the differences were less significant. As contrasted with 
Coughlin, McCarthy had more success among the traditional sources 
of Republican and conservative strength, among Protestants, and 
particularly among the urban and the rural self-employed. Negroes 
tended to oppose him. As I noted in Political Man and have in some 
part documented here, his following was more comparable to that of 
the classic European Fascist movements. He appealed to those who 
were outside the major centers of contemporary power in American 
life that is, those opposed to the social and big-business elite and 
to the organized liberal and trade-union forces. 

Finally, the Birch Society, with the least popular appeal of the 
three, has had its primary success with -the more well-to-do segments 
of conservative political opinion. Unlike its two predecessors on the 
"radical right, 59 the Birch Society does not seem to have any distinct 
appeal to Catholics as such, although within the ranks of the sup- 
porters of each party, Catholics are sEghtly more likely to favor the 
Society than are Protestants. This absence of heavy Ca$faolic support 
may reflect a number of factors, such" as the fact that a Catholic 
Democrat is now in the White House and consequently the current 
"radical right" is engaged in denouncing the most important Irish 
Catholic in the country; or the lack of appeal of the Birch Society's 
conservative program for a Catholic population that as a group 
must still be counted as among the economically less privileged 
denominations. The Society is also the only one of the three "move- 
ments" not headed by a Catholic, and it has been vigorously 
denounced by many Catholic leaders and magazines. But whatever 
the reason, it is certain that in the early 1960s at least, Catholics 
can no longer be numbered as among the significant backers of 
rightist extremism. (Parenthetically, it may be noted that many of 
the groups, other than the Birch Society itself, that have taken the 
lead on the radical right in the 1960s are led by fundamentalist 
Protestants.) 53 

Although it is too early to make any definitive statement on the 
matter, opinion data on these movements suggests that, contrary to 
the suppositions of many, extreme-rightist tendencies do not seem to 
be systematically associated with anti-Semitic attitudes. Even Father 

366 The Radical Right 

Coughlin, though as avowedly anti-Semitic as any figure in American 
political history, does not seem to have been able to unite most 
anti-Semites behind him or, conversely, to have increased the level 
of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country. Feeling against Jews, though 
much stronger in the 1930s than it has been since, does not appear 
to have been an important influence in popular political alignment. 
Class position, ideological values, party commitment, and many 
other factors have been much more powerful determinants of how 
people lined up politically. Thus, Coughlin supporters, who were 
not anti-Semitic, could be favorably disposed toward the priest be- 
cause they liked his "leftist" economic program. 

As I noted in my original essay, McCarthy's relationship with Jews 
was extremely friendly. In his original essay for this collection, 
Peter Viereck noted that at one McCarthy mass meeting, "a rabbi 
accused the opposition to Roy Cohn of anti-Semitic intolerance. 
Next Cohn's was called 'the American Dreyfus Case' by a represent- 
ative of a student McCarthyite organization, Students for America." 
Viereck went on to suggest a new phenomenon of "transtolerance," 
a concept that I think should receive more attention than it has: 

Transtolerance is ready to give all minorities their glorious democratic 
freedom provided they accept McCarthyism or some other mob con- 
formism of Right or Left. . . . "Right" and "Left" are mere fluctuating 
pretexts, mere fluid surfaces for the deeper anti-individualism (anti- 
aristocracy) of the mass man. . . . 

Transtolerance is also a sublimated Jim Crow: against "wrong" 
thinkers, not "wrong" races. ... It is the Irishman's version of Mick- 
baiting and a strictly kosher anti-Semitism. It very sincerely champions 
against anti-Semites "that American Dreyfus, Roy Cohn"; simultane- 
ously it glows with the same mob emotions that in all previous or 
comparable movements have been anti-Semitic. 

If I understand Mr. Viereck correctly, he is saying that the 
object of intolerance in America has never been as important as the 
style, the emotion, the antagonism and envy toward some specified 
other who is seen as wealthier, more powerful, or particularly, as 
a corrupter of basic values. The Jew, like the Wall Street banker, 
has been a symbol on which the intolerant could hang their need 
to hate what is different, or what is powerful, more wealthy, or 
better educated. Basically there is some undefined segment of the 
population that responds to the need to hate, not to the specific 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 367 

target. In the American context, anti-Semitism has not been a par- 
ticularly stable sentiment. European anti-Semitism has had its roots 
in religious antagonism to the Jew, which was later associated with 
social conflicts stemming from the special economic position of the 
Jews in the middleman and money-lending sectors of the economy. 
Religious and cultural anti-Semitism, however, have never played 
important roles in the United States. The cultural values have ap- 
proved of religious pluralism almost since the beginning of the Re- 
public. And while anti-Semitic feelings and stereotypes have existed, 
it is doubtful that they have ever been as salient for a large part of 
the population as they have been in most of the European Continent. 
Hence, it might be argued that a right-wing movement that found 
other sources of hate and other conspiracies, and that also defined 
the Jews as among their supporters and leaders, could actually serve 
to lower the state of anti-Semitism in the country. 54 It is interesting 
to note that a recent study of the British Fascist movement led by 
Mosely indicates that as soon as he became openly anti-Semitic, 
he lost almost all of the significant sources of upper-class support he 
had obtained when he first started. Apparently, many prominent 
British conservatives were willing to support Fascism in the early 
1930s but balked at anti-Semitism. 55 

Anti-elitism oriented toward groups that cannot be regarded as 
oppressed minorities or victims of bigotry, or anti-Communism 
directed against the agents or dupes of an evil foreign power, can 
serve as much more palatable outlets for those who require a scape- 
goat than "un-American" attacks on minorities. To attack Com- 
munists in high places, even within the White House or the top 
circles of the Republican Party, may be nonsense, may be stupid 
or clever politics, but it cannot be driven beyond the pale of 
Americanism as racial or religious bigotry. 

The current crop of radical rightists seems to understand this 
difference between religious prejudice, anti-elitism, and anti-Com- 
munism. Most of them consciously and explicitly abstain from 
expressing anti- Jewish prejudice or other traditional forms of bigotry. 
If they attack a religious group, it is the National Council of Churches 
and its relatively liberal and high-status Protestant affiliates. To 
criticize such groups does not lay one open to the charge of prej- 
udice, Robert Welch, the head of the John Birch Society, has 
followed very clearly in the footsteps of Senator McCarthy in seeking 
to limit his followers to attacks on Communists and sections of the 

368 The Radical Right 

elite; for Welch, it is the political "power elite," the heads of the 
Democratic and Republican Parties. He has devoted much of 
one issue of his Bulletin, and parts of others, to bolstering the image 
of the Birch Society as including many Jews and being opposed to 

Evidence that Welch's efforts actually coincide with the behavior 
of his followers may be found in the analysis of mail to senatorial 
critics of McCarthy and of the Birch Society cited earlier. This study, 
whose findings coincide with survey data, reports that: 

only a small fraction of the McCarthy mail was anti-Semitic, 
but the absence of anti-Semitism is even more striking in the Birchite 
mail. Only five pieces [out of 600] revealed anti-Semitic attitudes. . . . 
This is, of course, a much lower quotient of anti-Semitism than is 
to be found in the general population and particularly among ultra- 
nationalists and super-patriots. It suggests that the Birch program has 
the effect at least for the time being of discouraging, sublimating, 
or diverting open anti-Semitism. 56 

All this does not mean, of course, that right-wing anti-Semitism 
may not arise in the 1960s. There is much journalistic evidence 
that anti-Semites have tried to attach themselves to the Birch Society. 
The fundamentalist Protestants do exhibit more religious anti-Semi- 
tism than any other segment of American Christendom, and a num- 
ber of right-wing fundamentalist groups have arisen. 57 But, on the 
other hand, the dominant leader of the sensible wing of right-wing 
conservatism, Barry Goldwater, by descent, is half- Jewish, and is the 
scion on his father's side of a fourth-generation American family of 
German- Jewish origin, a fact that he emphasizes rather than conceals. 
Although Goldwater is much too moderate for the Birch Society or 
other segments of the radical right, he is still the leader of the one 
major conservative tendency the Birchers see as appropriate to the 
American tradition and properly anti-Communist. 58 Hence, it is 
possible that the phenomenon of "transtolerance" will continue as 
part of the radical right in the 1960s. 

Political intolerance has always been an endemic part of the 
American political process. From the 1790s to the 1960s, various 
groups have been attacked as "traitors," "agents of foreign powers," 
"un-American," and the like. It seems evident that at all times 
many Americans have been in favor of denying basic civil liberties 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 369 

to beliefs that they find abhorrent Intolerant movements, while 
often powerful, have never been able seriously to endanger the 
normal processes of American democracy. The involved structure 
of the constitutional system, the division of powers, the juridical 
protections, the complex and diverse sources of opinion and interest 
differences, and ultimately the good sense of the large majority have 
frustrated them. As I wrote in my original essay, it is relatively 
easy to build a new extremist movement in this country; it is difficult 
if not impossible to build a party. 59 But if such movements cannot 
come to power, they can damage the democratic process for short 
periods of time, and they can and have injured innocent people. 
Hopefully, a more thorough knowledge of the elements in society 
responsible for their persistence should contribute to more effective 
action in restraining them. 

iThis paper is a first report of an effort to investigate the sources of politi- 
cal extremism in American life, and its possible relationship to forms of 
religious and ethnic prejudice, which is now under way at the Survey Re- 
search Center of the University of California under a grant of funds from 
the Anti-Defamation League. I am especially grateful for assistance in the 
analysis of the quantitative data to Charles Gehrke, Natalie Gtunas, Louise 
Johnson, Gary Marx, and Nancy Mendelsohn. The analysis of the materials 
dealing with the support of Father Coughlin is reported in greater detail in 
Gary Marx, The Social Basis of the Support of a Depression Era Extremist: 
Father Charles E. Coughlin (M.A. thesis, Department of Sociology, Univer- 
sity of California at Berkeley, 1962). I am particularly indebted to a number 
of research agencies for providing the data from various surveys for use in 
this analysis. These include the Roper Public Opinion Research Center at 
Williams College, the American Institute of Public Opinion Research (Gallup 
Poll), and the California Poll. 

2 Coughlin, of course, was antagonistic to conservative Republicans of the 
Hoover variety, while the Birch Society sees treason present among liberal 

3 Edward A. Shils, The Torment of Secrecy (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1956), 
pp. 231-34. 

4 See also W. MilMs, "The Rise and Fall of the Radical Right," Virginia Law 
Review, 44 (1958), pp. 1291-1300; Oscar Handlin, "Do the Voters Want 
Moderation?", Commentary, 22 (1956), pp. 193-98; and Frank Thistle- 
waite, "What Is Un-American?", Cambridge Journal, 5 (1952), pp. 211-24. 
Two books on the subject, one pro and the other con, are William Buckley 
and L. E. Bozell, McCarthy and His Enemies (Chicago: Regnery, 1954), 
and Richard H. Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 

5 Discussions of Coughlin may be found in Victor C. Ferkiss, "Populist In- 
fluences on American Fascism," Western Political Quarterly, 10 (1957), pp. 
359-67; James P. Shenton, "The Coughlin Movement and the New Deal," 
Political Science Quarterly, 73 (1958), pp. 352-73; Arthur M. Schlesinger, 

370 The Radical Right 

Jr., The Politics of Upheaval (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), pp. 16-23, 
244-49, 553-61, 626-30. 

6 At one point he threatened to fight "in Franco's way if necessary." (Shenton, 
op. cit., p. 372.) An analysis of Coughlin's speeches may be found in Alfred 
McClung Lee and Briant Lee, The Fine Art of Propaganda (New York: 
Harcourt, Brace, 1939). Coughlin is also discussed in John Roy Carlson, 
Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America (New 
York: E. P. Dutton, 1943). 

7 Coughlin actually gave voice to various anti-Semitic statements while he 
was still backing Roosevelt in the early years of his administration. "[His] 
hatred of the moneylenders spilled over to an identification of bankers with 
Rothschilds, Warburgs, and Kuhn-Loebs. , . . Mentioning Alexander Hamil- 
ton, he would casually add, *whose original name was Alexander Levine.* 
He freely attacked those 'who, without either the blood of patriotism or of 
Christianity flowing in their veins, have shackled the lives of men and of 
nations with the ponderous links of their golden chain.' n (Schlesinger, op. cit., 
pp. 26-27.) Another historian cites a speech in which Coughlin criticized 
Roosevelt as early as 1934 and attacked "godless capitalists, the Jews, Com- 
munists, international bankers, and plutocrats," (Walter Johnson, 1600 Penn- 
sylvania Avenue [Boston: Little, Brown, I960], p. 85.) During the 1936 
Presidential campaign, in a speech discussing Christian Brotherhood, he said, 
"I challenge every Jew in this nation to tell me that he does or doesn't be- 
lieve in it." And his paper, Social Justice, editorialized in October, 1936, "If 
certain groups of politically-swayed Jews . . . care to organize against Father 
Coughlin or the National Union they will be entirely responsible for stirring 
up any repercussions which they will invite." (Cited in Schlesinger, op. cit., 
p. 628.) He insisted, however, that he was not anti-Semitic at this time. In 
a private interview he said, "Jew-baiting won't work here. Fascism is dif- 
ferent in every country." (Loc. cit.) A detailed description of Coughlin's 
anti-Semitic activities from the summer of 1938 to his withdrawal from 
politics after Pearl Harbor may be found in Gustavus Myers, History of 
Bigotry in the United States (New York: Capricorn Books, 1960), pp. 375- 

8 For a discussion of these ideological components of European fascism, see 
S. M. Lipset, Political Man (New York: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 131-76. 
In this book, I have also elaborated on the similarities between the ideologies 
of McCarthyisrn, Poujadism, and variants of Fascist movements without 
suggesting that either McCarthy or Poujade were Fascists. 

9 1 have elaborated the thesis of three different types of "rightist" movements 
those oriented to the lower strata, to the centrist middle classes, or to the 
privileged conservative strata in Political Man, pp. 131-76. 

10 A latter survey conducted by the Gallup Poll in July of 1939 indicated 
that Coughlin's support declined in that year. Only 15 per cent stated that 
they agreed with his ideas, or with what he said, while 38 per cent stated 
they disagreed with his ideas, and 31 per cent indicated disagreement with 
what he said. See Hadley Cantril, Public Opinion 1935-1946 (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1951), p, 148. 

11 Such contradictions between the opinions of leaders and followers may, of 
course, be reported for almost every major figure and political party. In 
some European countries, survey data indicate that 10-15 per cent of those 
who vote conservative believe in nationalization of most industries, while a 
much larger proportion of Socialist voters in these nations opposes such 
, measures. 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 371 

12 Most of the American hierarchy and the Vatican were in fact deeply 
troubled by Coughlin's political activities. (See Schlesinger, op. cit., pp. 628- 
29, and Shenton, op. cit., pp. 364-66, 371.) One Catholic estimate of the 
politics of the hierarchy reported that at least 103 of the 106 American 
bishops voted for Roosevelt in 1936. (Ibid., p. 367.) 
iSThe April, 1938, study did not inquire as to respondents* religion. 

14 In reading these tables, it should be noted that the important measure of 
support or opposition is the difference in per cent between those opposing 
and supporting. The presence of a large and varying group with "no opinion" 
makes reliance on the proportion supporting alone misleading. 

15 Samuel Lubell, The Future of American Politics (New York: Doubleday 
Anchor Books, 1956), p. 152. 

16 In an interview with a journalist in 1936, Coughlin stated that this was 
the last free election that the United States would have, that the country 
would have to choose between Communism and Fascism, and he said, "I 
take the road of Fascism." (Schlesinger, op. cit. f p. 629.) He also "praised 
Mussolini and Hitler over the radio. . . ." (Johnson, op. cit,, p. 114.) As 
has already been noted, he ardently backed Franco during the Spanish Civil 
War, and after war broke out in Europe, he supported Japan in Asia and 
the Axis powers in Europe. (See Shenton, op. cit., p. 372.) 

17 It seems clear also that many anti-Semites were also anti-Catholic and 
thus may have been anti-Coughlin. A Gallup Survey conducted in November, 
1938, asked a national sample whether they approved of the Nazis* treat- 
ment of Jews in Germany, and similarly whether they approved of the 
treatment of Catholics. Among non-Catholics who approved of the persecu- 
tion of the Jews, almost half, 43 per cent, also favored the Nazis 1 attacks 
on Catholics, 45 per cent opposed them, and 12 per cent had no opinion. 
This finding suggests that about half the extreme anti-Semites were also 

18 Schlesinger, for example, wrote that the "followers of the demagogues 
[Coughlin, Townsend, and Long] mostly came from the old lower-middle 
classes, now in an unprecedented stage of frustration and fear, menaced by 
humiliation, dispossession, and poverty. , . . They came, in the main, from 
the ranks of the self-employed, who, as farmers or shopkeepers or artisans, 
felt threatened by organized economic power, whether from above, as in 
banks and large corporations, or from below, as in trade unions.*' (Op. cit., 
p. 68.) 

Victor Ferkiss also described the movements led by Huey Long, Father 
Coughlin, and Gerald L. K. Smith as "designed to appeal to a middle class 
composed largely of farmers and small merchants which feels itself crushed 
between big business and especially big finance on the one hand, and an 
industrial working class ... on the other. . . ." It appealed also "to those 
members of the urban lower-middle class (especially the white-collar workers) 
who were unwilling to identify themselves with organized labor and feared 
its power almost as much as they feared that of big business." (Op. cit., pp. 
350, 360.) 

A contemporary account of Coughlin described him as having a program 
which "appeals simultaneously to agriculture, the middle class, and the big 
employer." Raymond Gram Swing, Forerunners of American Fascism (New 
York: Julian Messner, 1935), p. 51. 

These observers all clearly have been unaware that Coughlin's mass base 
came largely from the urban working class and the very poor, particularly 

372 The Radical Right 

the unemployed and those on relief. Although it may have seemed logical 
to assume that the urban self-employed were among his supporters, the evi- 
dence does not justify this assumption. However, Gustavus Myers did point 
out that public-opinion data indicated that "Coughlin's followers were mostly 
in the stratum of low incomes." (Op. cit., p. 388.) This work was first pub- 
lished in 1943. 

19 A related point was made in the original edition of The New American 
Right in urging the need for a distinction between "the intolerant those who 
will say 'Kill the Communists' as easily as they will say 'Jail the sex deviants* 
and Tire a teacher who is a free thinker' and the concerned those who 
are sincerely worried about Communism, and think strong measures are 
necessary to deal with it." See Nathan Glazer and S. M. Lipset, "The Polls 
on Communism and Conformity," in the original edition of The New Ameri- 
can Right, p. 152. A somewhat similar differentiation among McCarthy sup- 
porters has been drawn by John Fenton, an editor of the Gallup Poll. He 
reports that the Poll's data from two 1954 surveys suggest "two separate 
wings" of McCarthy supporters. The first "was based primarily on the fact 
he was anti-Communist," and often disliked his "high-handed and ruthless 
tactics," while the "second wing liked McCarthy as much for his methods as 
they did for his anti-Communism. These . . . admired McCarthy because he 
was 'a fighter' and 'had the guts to stand up to them.' " According to Fenton, 
as McCarthy lost support in 1954 as a result of his fight with the Army, he 
"lost ground generally with voters across the country. His sharpest losses, 
however, tended to come from persons who would fall in the first, or anti- 
Communist wing. He lost fewer friends among the second wing when the 
hearings were over, Joe was still the fighter who had 'stood up to them' to 
many in this wing." (In Your Opinion [Boston: Little, Brown, 1960], pp. 

Similar results are indicated by a study of mail to Senator Flanders, a 
prominent critic of McCarthy's. As McCarthy came under severe attack and 
lost public support in 1954, there "is a significant decline in the literacy 
quality of the pro-McCarthy mail. . . . The decline in literacy quality of the 
pro-McCarthy mail is accompanied by an increase in the number of emotion- 
ally toned and unsigned letters. . . ." Stanley C. Plog, "McCarthy and Democ- 
racy," unpublished paper (dittoed, Neuropsychiatric Institute, U.C.L.A. Medi- 
cal Center, 1962), pp. P2-P3. 
2 See Cantril, op. cit., pp. 130, 164, 244. 

21 Nelson W. Polsby, "Towards an Explanation of McCarthyism," Political 
Studies, 8 (1960). Polsby lists as Ms sources various published Gallup surveys 
and the results of his own re-analysis of one 1954 Gallup Poll. See also Louis 
Bean, Influences in the Mid-Term Election (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs 
Institute, 1954); and Louis Harris, Is There a Republican Majority? (New 
York: Harper & Brothers, 1954). In reporting Harris's findings, Polsby states 
that Harris found that the Irish were not disproportionately pro-McCarthy. 
In my judgment, he misinterpreted Harris's finding. Harris reports that the 
Irish in his 1952 sample divided evenly between support and opposition to 
McCarthy. Since, however, McCarthy was only supported by a minority of 
the entire sample, a group that was evenly split on him was more favorable 
than most other ethnic groups, and hence Harris should be recorded as find- 
ing the Irish predisposed to back McCarthy. 

22 A 1952 Roper survey that was taken in May, before either party had 
nominated their Presidential candidates, indicates this clearly: 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 373 


Traditional Party Preference 
Democrat Republican 

1952 Vote Intention Pro-McC. Anti-McC. Pro-McC. Anti-McC. 

Republican 28% 20% 90% 85% 

Democrat 39 45 2 2 

Undecided 33 35 8 13 

N (389) (524) (40) (344) 

23 The analysis of McCarthy's support in the remaining part of this section 
is largely based on the data from four surveys: a Roper study of 3000 
respondents made in May, 1952; an eleven-state survey taken by Interna- 
tional Research Associates (I.N.R.A.) in August-September, 1954, three 
months before the Senate censured Senator McCarthy; the 1954 election 
survey of the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, cited earlier; 
and a study conducted by the Gallup organization in December, 1954, after 
McCarthy had been censured by the Senate, asking a national sample its 
opinion of the censure. The I.N.R.A. survey presented the analytic advantage 
of furnishing the largest sample, since it had been designed to report on 
opinion in 11 states California, Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Iowa, 
New Mexico, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The 
total sample was 9852. While this survey cannot be considered as representa- 
tive of the national population, there seems no good reason to assume that 
sub-group variations (e.g., religion, education, party, etc.) within these 11 
states were not characteristic of reactions to McCarthy generally. One of its 
questions concerning reactions to McCarthy was identical with that of the 
University of Michigan's national study, and the distribution of replies was 
almost the same. 

24 John Fenton's analysis of Gallup data indicates that those among McCar- 
thy's supporters who approved of his anti-Communism, but were "sometimes 
repelled by the Senator's high-handed and ruthless tactics," were "often 
professional or business people with college educations." Those who approved 
of his methods, who admired him for being tough in his fight against an 
unspecified "them," who felt that "you can't use kid gloves for that kind 
of stuff," were disproportionately "from the working classes and with grade- 
school education." (See Fenton, op. cit., pp. 135-36.) 

25 These differences among occupational categories continue to hold when 
Democrats and Republicans are examined separately. Thus, Democratic busi- 
nessmen in the I.N.R.A. survey were less anti-McCarthy than Democratic 
professionals, executives, or even manual workers. On the other hand, they 
were much more anti-McCarthy than businessmen who consider themselves 
Republicans or Independents. Republican workers, the "Tory workers" in 
my original essay, were the group most favorable to McCarthy within their 

2$ The evidence underlying this analysis is not presented in this preliminary 
report, since it would involve presenting a larger number of complicated 
analytic tables. The Coughlin studies did not include a question on education, 
but they did have information on both occupation and socio-economic status. 
And as was noted in the discussion of his support, within occupational cate- 
gories, higher socio-economic status was associated with antagonism to 
Coughlin, the opposite of its effect on McCarthy sentiment. 

374 The Radical Right 

27 See Robert Sokol, Rank Inconsistency and McCarthy ism: An Empirical 
Test (unpublished paper, Dartmouth College). This was done by asking 
respondents, "Does the money you receive for your job seem higher, the 
same or lower than what you'd expect a person with your education to re- 
ceive?" Those who answered higher or lower were then asked, "How much 
have you thought about this difference between your income and your educa- 
tion a great deal, sometimes, or never?" Based on answers to these questions, 
men were ranked on a scale with seven positions. 

28 With but one exception, all the surveys reported by Polsby, op. cit., and 
those examined here agree on variations in religious backing for McCarthy. 
The survey that indicates little difference is the 1952 Roper study. 

29 Martin Trow, Right-Wing Radicalism and Political Intolerance (unpublished 
Ph.D. thesis, Department of Sociology, Columbia University, 1957), pp. 30-31. 

30 These materials are also reported in Martin Trow, "Small Businessmen, 
Political Tolerance, and Support for McCarthy," American Journal of Soci- 
ology, 64 (1958), pp. 277-78. I have previously discussed Trow's findings 
in the context of a general analysis of right-wing movements in Political 
Man, op. cit., pp. 167-70. 

31 T. W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Bmnswik, Daniel Levinson and R. Nevitt 
Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950). 

32 Harold M. Hodges, "A Sociological Analysis of McCarthy Supporters" 
(unpublished paper, San Jose State College), pp. 2-3. 

33 See H. H. Hyman and Paul Sheatsley, "'The Authoritarian Personality 9 
A Methodological Critique," in R. Christie and M. Jahoda, editors, Studies 
in the Scope and Method of "The Authoritarian Personality" (Glencoe: The 
Free Press, 1954), pp. 94-96. 

34 The 1953 N.O.R.C. study used the following items as a measure of "au- 
thoritarian" predisposition: 

1. The most important thing to teach children is absolute obedience to 
their parents. 

2. Any good leader should be strict with people under him in order to 
gain their respect. 

3. Prison is too good for sex criminals. They should be publicly whipped 
or worse. 

4. There are two kinds of people in the world: the weak and the strong. 

5. No decent man can respect a woman who has had sex relations before 

35 The possibility that the relationship is a function of a response set is 
challenged by the fact that one of the three questions that measured senti- 
ment toward McCarthy was worded so that a pro-McCarthy sentiment required 
a "no" answer. On the whole, those who said "No," they would not support 
a candidate who opposed McCarthy, replied "Yes," they would back one 
who favored the Senator. 

36 Charles H. Stember, Education and Attitude Change (New York Institute 
of Human Relations Press, 1961), pp. 109, 118. Since this paper went to 
press, I have secured a set of the I.B.M. cards of this survey for further 
analysis. This indicates that in the sample as a whole, those favorable to 
McCarthy are somewhat less willing to accept Jewish neighbors than were 
his opponents. 

&Ibid., pp. 136, 143. 

38 Ibid., pp. 18-19. 

39 Nathan Glazer, The Social Basis of American Communism (New York: 
Harcourt, Brace, 1961), pp. 130-68. 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 375 

40 Such evidence cannot be taken as supporting the thesis that anti-McCarthy 
people were more anti-Semitic than pro-McCarthy people since positive re- 
plies to this question do not necessarily indicate greater anti-Semitism. Rather, 
it has been argued that those individuals who know more people, who have 
more contacts with others, are more likely to hear more of every kind of 
attitude. And since increased social relations outside of one's intimate family 
circle are associated with higher education and status, the fact that opponents 
of McCarthy are higher on these social attributes may account for the 
rinding. To investigate this possibility, these replies were compared among 
people with varying amounts of education, and the relationship still held. 
Among the grammar-school-, high-school-, and college-educated, those opposed 
to McCarthy were more likely to report having heard anti-Semitic com- 
ments than those who were pro-McCarthy. 

41 Hodges, in his study, based on a sample of 248 in a small Wisconsin 
town, reports that those who were pro-McCarthy were more likely to sub- 
scribe "more frequently to anti-Semitic statements," but also tended "to 
reject statements which are anti-Negro in content." (Op. cit., p. 3.) 

42 The wording of the question in the two surveys was similar but not 
identical, since the California Poll item read: "Have you heard anything 
about a political group called the John Birch Society?" The Gallup query 
did not include the word "political." 

43 It should be noted, however, that this does not mean that Californians 
are more in favor of the Birch Society than those in other parts of the 
country. Actually, among those with opinions, there are proportionately 
more pro-Birchers in the Midwest and in the South than in the Far West 

44 The same pattern occurs in the national Gallup data. 

45 The questionnaires were left at the homes of those chosen in the sample, 
to be filled out by the respondent and picked up the following day. 

4 6The survey indicated that Bay Area Birch supporters are more likely to 
be Republicans than Democrats, college-educated rather than less schooled, 
and white Christians rather than members of racial or religious minorities. 
Thus, of the white, Christian, college-trained Republicans in the sample, 16 
per cent reported themselves generally favorable to the Birchers. No Jews 
or Orientals and only 4 per cent of the Negroes queried were pro-Birch, 

47 Only white Christians were included in these comparisons, since the find- 
ings would presumably have been distorted by the inclusion of the minorities 
in ratings of their own groups. 

48 Stories reported in the California press concerning internal conflicts within 
the Republican Party and the attitudes of wealthy Republicans toward con- 
tributing to Nixon's campaign suggest that the Party is troubled by the fact 
that support for the Birch Society is much greater among Party activists 
and wealthy contributors than among the Republican electorate. Recent 
evidence from analysis of national data indicates that local Republican leaders 
around the country tend to be considerably more conservative than the rank 
and file of the G.O.P. See Herbert McClosky, Paul L Hoffman, and Rose- 
mary O'Hara, "Issue Conflict and Consensus Among Party Leaders and 
Followers," American Political Science Review, 54 (1960), pp. 406-27; 
see, especially, pp. 422-24. 

49 Similar conclusions concerning differences between the support of McCar- 
thy and of the Birch Society drawn from survey data have recently been 
suggested in a report of a comparative study of mail attacking Senatorial 
critics of the radical right (Senator Fulbright for his opposition to McCarthy 
and Senator Kuchel for his attacks on the Birch Society). The report states 

376 The Radical Right 

that "only 15 per cent of the McCarthyite mail could charitably, at best 
be described as reasonable in tone, substance, or literacy." However, the 
"Birch mail is much more moderate in tone than McCarthy mail, even 
though it may be as extremist in objective. It is better written and better 
reasoned. . . . The great bulk of the mail came from people who acknowl- 
edge membership in the Birch Society or from sympathizers. . . . Many of 
the writers seem genuinely concerned over the rise of Communism. . . . But 
many of them seem more aroused over social-welfare legislation, income 
taxes, and foreign aid than they are over Communism." (See Herman Edels- 
berg, "Birchites Make Polite Pen Pals," The A.D.L. Bulletin, April, 1962, 
pp. 7-8.) 

Presumably the differences in style and tone of the letters reflected the 
variation in the class and educational levels of the supporters of both tend- 

50 Various journalistic accounts indicate that the Birch Society includes 
among its members the heads of a number of medium-size corporations, such 
as independent oil companies, and manufacturing concerns. Such men, as I 
noted in my original essay, also supported McCarthy, and they are often 
willing to back up their antagonism to "creeping Socialism" with heavy 

si Op. cit.; see, especially, Chapters IV and V, those dealing with "Working- 
Class Authoritarianism" and " 'Fascism' Left, Right, and Center," pp. 97- 
v*lbid., pp. 97-131. 

53 See David Danzig, "The Radical Right and the Rise of the Fundamentalist 
Minority," Commentary, 33 (1962), pp. 291-98. The John Birch Society 
does not seem to be particularly fundamentalist in its appeal or its mass 
base. See also Irwin Suall, The American Ultras (New York: New America, 
1962), pp. 38-43. 

54 A somewhat related set of ideas on the psychological and personality level 
is presented in Milton Rokeach, The Open and Closed Mind (New York: 
Basic Books, 1960), especially pp. 132-68. As Rokeach states his hypothesis, 
"The basic principle governing the way in which we organize the world of 
people is not in terms of abstract ethnic or racial categories as such but in 
terms of how congruent or incongruent others' belief systems are to our own. 
The more significance we attach to another's agreement or disagreement with 
us as grounds for reacting to him, the more the intolerance [or tolerance]. . . . 
In short, then, we hypothesize that insofar as psychological processes are in- 
volved, belief is more important than ethnic or racial membership as a 
determinant of social discrimination. Our theory leads us to propose that 
what appears at first glance to be discriminations among men on the 
basis of race or ethnic group may turn out upon closer analysis to be 
discriminations on the basis of belief congruence over specific issues." Pp. 
134-35 (emphasis in original). 

55 Colin Cross, The Fascists in Britain (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1961). 

56 Edelsberg, op. cit., p. 7. 

57 For a description of one of the most important, see Harold H. Martin, 
"Doomsday Merchant of the Far, Far Right [Billy Hargis]," Saturday Eve- 
ning Post, 235 (April 28, 1962), pp. 19-24. Hargis, too, tells his followers, 
"We cannot tolerate anti-Semitic statements, anti-Negro statements. . . ." (p. 
22). However, it should be noted that in the past "he has acknowledged he 
received inspiration from the late Reverend Gerald Winrod, a notorious 
anti-Semite. In addition, Hargis promoted the American Mercury at a time 

Three Decades of the Radical Right 1962 377 

when it was blatantly anti-Semitic." (Arnold Forster, "Clamor from the Far 
Right," The A.D.L. Bulletin [November, 1961], pp. 2, 6.) 

58 The Young Americans for Freedom, which has broader right-wing and 
conservative support than any other organization, is headed by a Jew, as is 
the Committee of One Million, established to support Nationalist China. 

59 The reasons why a new or third party has never been able to succeed in 
this country are discussed in S. M. Lipset, "Party Systems and the Repre- 
sentation of Social Groups," European Journal of Sociology, 1 (I960), pp* 


Of the essays in the 1955 edition of this volume, "The Pseudo- 
Conservative Revolt," by Richard Hofstadter, was given as a lecture 
at Barnard College and printed in The American Scholar, Winter, 1954- 
55; "The Intellectuals and the Discontented Classes," by David Riesman 
and Nathan Glazer, appeared in Partisan Review, Winter, 1955; "The 
Revolt Against the Elite," by Peter Viereck, was given originally before 
the American Historical Association in December, 1954; and "Social 
Strains in America," by Talcott Parsons, appeared in the Yale Review, 
Winter, 1955. 

Of the essays written in 1962, those by Daniel Bell, Richard Hof- 
stadter, David Riesman, Talcott Parsons, and S. M. Lipset were written 
for this volume. Herbert Hyman's essay was adapted from a longer 
report on the climate of intolerance in England, based on a Guggenheim 
Foundation fellowship, and is published here for the first time. Alan 
Westin's essay is a revised version of two earlier essays, "The John 
Birch Society" and "The Radical Right and the Radical Left," which 
appeared in Commentary, August, 1961, and Harper's, April, 1962. 

The editor wishes to thank Nathan Glazer and Seymour Martin Lipset 
for the discussions that led to the original volume; to William Phillips 
for aiding in the original publication; Mrs. Iris Lewin who provided 
secretarial help on the 1962 essays, and his wife, Pearl Kazin Bell 
who gave the manuscript her expert editorial scrutiny. 


Abrams, Mark, 227, 256 
Academic Mind, The, 133-34, 250 
Acheson, Dean, 88, 130, 136, 151, 


Adams, John, 43, 157, 164, 167 
Adams, John Quincy, 157, 164 
Adenauer, Konrad, 157, 309 
Adorno, Theodore W., 79, 80, 310, 


Adams, Henry, 153, 159 
A.D.L. Bulletin, 376, 377 
Age of Reform, 300 
Agrarian League, 44 
Agrarian Socialism, 59 
Aldrich, Winthrop W., 302 
Alger, Jr., Frederick M., 302 
Alien and Sedition Acts, 234, 235, 


Alliance, Inc., 303 
Allen Bradley Co., 37 
Almond, Edward M., 30 
Almond, Gabriel, 252, 255, 257, 301 
Alsop brothers, 49, 101 
America (magazine), 226 
America First, 137, 140, 277 
American Bar Assn., 222 
American Civil Liberties Union, 257 
American Coalition of Patriotic Soc., 


American Council of Christian Lay- 
men, 210 

American Diplomacy, 1900-1950, 301 
American Dreams, 253 
American Enterprise Assn., 224 
American Farm Bureau Fed., 222 
American Fed. of Labor (AFL), 303 
American Inquisitors, 20, 36 
American Jewish League . . . , 215 
American Jewish Yearbook, 60 
American Journal of Sociology, 80, 

300, 305, 374 
American Legion, 19, 139, 222, 304 

American Medical Assn., 207, 222 
American Mercury, 214, 376-77 
American Opinion, 204, 210, 223 
American Party, 261 
American People and Foreign Policy, 

American Political Science Review, 

59, 306, 308, 375 
American Protective Assn., 261, 263, 


American Retail Foundation, 212 
American Scholar, 132, 134 
American Scientists . . . , 37 
American Security Council, 3, 29 
American Strategy, Inc., 30 
American Strategy for the Nuclear 

Age, 5 

American Style, 35 
American Telephone & Telegraph, 


American Ultras, 376 
American Voter, 256 
Americanism, 26768. See also Fun- 
damentalism; Loyalty; Nationalism 
Americans Betrayed, 301 
Americans for Democratic Action, 31, 

54, 224, 274 
Amory, Cleveland, 304 
And Keep Your Powder Dry, 80 
Andrews, T. Coleman, 210 
Anti-Communist Bookstore, 223 
Anti-Defamation League, 369 
Anti-Saloon League, 45 
Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 173 
Appeals of Communism, 252 
Arabs, 226 

Archetypes, 160, 161, 173 
Arendt, Hannah, 130 
Arens, Richard, 5 
Arensberg, C., 309 
Arizona, 363 
Arkansas, 262 



Army, U. S., 5, 6, 37, 100, 110, 207; 

McCarthy hearings, 229, 294 
Aron, Raymond, 301 
Asia, 142, 143, 144, 276 
Atheists, 265 
Atlantic Monthly, 156 
Atlee, Clement, 257 
Atomic energy, 25-27, 37 
Atomic Energy Comm., 26, J 27, 37, 


Aubert, V., 251, 253 
Australia, 239, 254, 286 
Austria, 168 
Authoritarian Personality, 64, 79, 80, 

290, 310, 341, 342, 374 
Authoritarianism, 64, 80, 307-8, 310, 

341-42, 343, 348 
Authoritarianism and Leadership, 307 

B.B.C., 257 

Babbitt, Irving, 138, 143, 154 ff, 167 

Bagehot, Walter, 18 

Baptists, 21, 50-51, 335-36 

Barber, B., 252 

Barr, Stringfellow, 111 

Barrett, Jn, E. L., 254 

Barth, Alan, 233, 251 

Batista, Fulgencio, 213 

Bay, C., 254 

Baylor University, 93 

Bean, Louis, 372 

Beard, Charles A,, 59, 142 

Beard, Miriam, 60 

Beaudelaire, Charles, 162 

Behemoth, 61 

Bell, Daniel, 60, 101; essays, 1-61 

Bendiner, Robert, 156 

Bendix, R., 80, 252, 299, 302, 305, 


Bennett, Rawson, 29 
Benney, Mark, 256, 304 
Benson, Lee, 299 
Bentham, Jeremy, 56, 61 
Berelson, Bernard, 110, 256 
Berle, Adolf, 23, 152 
Berlin blockade, 328 
Bethe, Hans, 29 
Betsy Ross Bookshop, 223 
Bettelheim, Bruno, 80, 97 
Beyond Conformity, 199 
Biddle, Nicholas, 42 
Big Business Executive, 36 

Bigotry. See Prejudices; specific 


Birch Society. See John Birch Society 
Birmingham University, 244 
Black Book, 205 
Black Boy, 97 
Black Muslims, 118 
Blacklist, 230 
Blake case, 249 
Blough, Roger, 23 
Blue Book of the John Birch Soc., 


Boasberg, Leonard, 79 
Boeing Aviation, 36 
Bohn, Frank, 300 
Bohlen, Charles E., 137, 303 
Bolingbroke, Lord, 168 
Bonbright, James C. H., 302 
Bonham, John, 305 
Bontecou, E., 250, 255, 256, 257 
Book Selection and Censorship, 250 
Bookstores, rightist, 222-23 
Boston, Mass., 144, 202, 279, 304 
Boy Scouts, 209 
Bozell, L. B,, 369 
Braden, Spruille, 210 
Bradley, Phillipe, 79 
Brainwashing in the High Schools, 6 
Brandt, Willy, 214 
Bricker, John, 143 

Bricker Amendment, 66, 67, 94, 108 
Bridges, Harry, 288 
British Journal of Sociology, 299, 304 
Britt (editor), 60 
Broadcasting, 230, 254 
Brodie, Bernard, 101 
Brogan, D. W., 79 
Brooks, Van Wyck, 50 
Browder, Earl, 275 
Brown, Edmund, 353 
Brown, Jr., Ralph S., 254 
Brownell, Herbert, 52 
Bryan, William Jennings, 51, 300 
Buchanan, W., 252 
Buckley, William, 291, 310, 369 
Budget, national, 3, 101, 133, 208, 


Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 254 
Bunker, Lawrence, 210 
Bullock, Maj. Gen., 6 
Burgess case, 242, 248 
Burke, Edmund, 156, 161, 164, 165, 




Burnham, James, 53, 291 

Burns, Arthur F., 206 

Business, 22-24, 36-37, 46, 99-100, 
101, 152-53, 179-80 ff, 222, 281- 
82 (See also Corporations; Wall 
Street); and surveys of attitudes, 
315-76 passim 

But We Were Born Free, 68, 79 

Butler, D. E., 256 

Cabot, John M., 302 

Calhoun, John C, 58, 156, 157, 167 

California, 19, 21, 196, 269, 353-63, 
375; bookstores, 223; librarians, 
230; teachers, 240; U. of, 317, 369 

California Poll, 353 ff, 369, 375 

Cambridge Journal, 369 

Campbell, Angus, 111, 256, 329 

Camrose, Lord, 257 

Canada, 40-41, 47, 271, 286, 308 

Canadian Forum, 301 

Canadian Inst. of Public Opinion, 
238-39, 254 

Cantril, H., 252, 372 

Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, 

Carlson, Roy, 370 

Case, Clifford, 311 

Cash, W. J., 133 

Castro, Fidel, 117, 121-22, 213-14 

Catholic Freedom Foundation, 210 

Catholics and Catholicism, 50, 57- 
58, 71, 95, 106, 116-17, 123, 134, 
218-19, 285-89, 307 ff; anti-groups, 
36, 203, 210, 261 ff, 287, 300, 371; 
Birch Soc. and, 116, 219, 226, 350, 
352, 357, 361, 365; and CoughEn, 
318 ff, 364, 371; and McCarthyism, 
143, 308, 334 ff, 344, 364, 365 

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 

Century of Total War, 301 

Chamber of Commerce, U. S., 207 

Chamberlain, John, 46, 291 

Chamberlain, L. H., 254 

Chamberlain, Neville, 143 

Chamberlain, William H., 277